The Hamilton Spectator

10 Palestinia­ns killed, scores hurt in Israel West Bank raid

Operation comes as new settlement­s reportedly OK’d by Israeli officials

- AREF TUFAHA AND JOSEF FEDERMAN

Israeli troops on Wednesday entered a major Palestinia­n city in the occupied West Bank in a rare, daytime arrest operation, triggering fighting that killed at least 10 Palestinia­ns and wounded scores of others.

The raid, which reduced a building to rubble and left a series of shops riddled with bullets, was one of the bloodiest battles in nearly a year of fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Two men, ages 72 and 61, were among the dead, and 102 people were wounded, Palestinia­n officials said.

The Israeli operation, coupled with the high death toll, raised the prospect of further bloodshed. A similar raid last month was followed by a deadly Palestinia­n attack outside a Jerusalem synagogue, and the Hamas militant group warned that “its patience is running out.”

In a move that could further raise tensions, Israel’s West Bank settler organizati­on said that Israeli officials had approved constructi­on of nearly 2,000 new homes in West Bank settlement­s. The Israeli government did not immediatel­y confirm the decision, which came just two days after the UN Security Council approved a watered-down statement opposing settlement constructi­on.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday that the situation in the occupied Palestinia­n territory “is at its most combustibl­e in years,” calling Israel’s operation in Nablus that left 10 Palestinia­ns dead and more than 80 injured “deeply concerning.” He urged stepped-up efforts to prevent the further escalation of violence, reduce tensions and restore calm.

The Israeli military said it entered Nablus on Wednesday to arrest three wanted militants suspected in previous shooting attacks in the West Bank, including the killing of an Israeli soldier last fall.

The military usually conducts raids at night in what it says is a tactic meant to reduce the risk of civilian casualties. It said it took advantage of a rare window of opportunit­y after intelligen­ce services tracked down the men in a hideout and warned they posed an imminent threat.

The army said it surrounded the building and asked the men to surrender, but instead they opened fire. When one of the militants tried to flee the building, he was shot and killed, said Lt.-Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokespers­on. The military then fired missiles at the house, he added, leaving it in ruins and killing the other two men.

A recently formed armed group based in the Old City of Nablus called the Lion’s Den, which has surged in prominence over the past months, confirmed the militants were its members.

During the raid, the military said armed men in the city “shot heavily toward the forces,” which responded with live fire. It said others hurled rocks and explosives at the troops. The military released a video taken from inside an armoured vehicle as crowds of Palestinia­n youths pelt it with stones. There were no Israeli casualties.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the situation ‘is at its most combustibl­e in years’

 ?? MAJDI MOHAMMED THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A Palestinia­n gestures to Israeli military vehicles during clashes in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday. Israeli troops moved into the city as part of an arrest operation, officials said.
MAJDI MOHAMMED THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A Palestinia­n gestures to Israeli military vehicles during clashes in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday. Israeli troops moved into the city as part of an arrest operation, officials said.

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