Times Standard (Eureka)

At least 6 Palestinia­ns killed during Israeli West Bank raid

- By Majdi Mohammed and Isabel Debre

JENIN, WEST BANK >> The Israeli army raided the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday, Palestinia­n health officials said, leading to a gunbattle that killed at least six Palestinia­ns and wounded more than two dozen others.

The military said it had killed the suspected assailant behind a fatal shooting of two Israeli brothers in the northern West Bank town of Hawara last week. Israeli military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivit­y of the matter, said two Israeli forces were wounded in Tuesday’s firefight in Jenin, one seriously.

The Jenin brigade, a loosely organized armed group based in the refugee camp, said its militants shot and hurled explosive devices at Israeli soldiers. The troops had surrounded the suspect’s home on the outskirts of the densely populated Jenin refugee camp, a hub of militant activity. Videos showed black smoke billowing in the distance after the army fired missiles at the besieged building.

Tuesday’s raid was the latest in a string of deadly arrest operations by the Israeli military in the northern West Bank, as violence surges to its highest levels in years. The raid raised fears of further bloodshed as Israel struggles to contain growing unrest led by young Palestinia­ns in the occupied West Bank who are increasing­ly taking up arms against Israel’s openended occupation, now in its 56th year.

The Palestinia­n Health Ministry said six people were shot and killed on Tuesday — men ranging in age from 22 to 49 — and 26 others were wounded. Israeli security forces identified 49-year-old Abdul Fattah Kharushah as a Hamas militant who killed the Israeli brothers in Hawara.

The military also said that Palestinia­n militants had shot down two drones over Jenin. Footage widely shared online showed young men cheering and taking selfies as they held the charred aircraft aloft.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the army for killing the assailant and sent wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded. “Whoever harms us will pay the price,” he said.

The spokesman of Palestinia­n President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, meanwhile denounced the Israeli military for waging “an all-out war” against the Palestinia­ns and for derailing recent efforts to restore calm.

The army said it also raided the nearby flashpoint city of Nablus and arrested two sons of the suspect, who officials accused of helping their father carry out the attack.

More than 60 Palestinia­ns have been killed by Israeli fire this year, about half of them militants, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Palestinia­n attacks against Israelis in east Jerusalem and the West Bank have killed 14 people during that same time.

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