Israeli forces kill six Palestinians, including a wanted militant, in a raid on Jenin

JENIN: Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in Jenin on Tuesday, including a suspected militant accused of killing two Israelis, the latest deadly raid in a spate of violence in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said six men were killed, one aged 49 and the rest in their 20s, in clashes the army said soldiers amid heavy gunfire fired shoulder-launched rockets.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called the use of rockets in the Jenin refugee camp – the scene of frequent clashes in the northern West Bank – an act of “all-out war”, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Witnesses said Israeli troops entered the camp and surrounded a house when a group of militants fought back, with the army reporting that “explosive devices and blocks” were hurled at their soldiers.

An AFP photographer saw plumes of smoke billow out of the building.

The Jenin Brigade, a militant group in the camp, said on one of its Telegram channels that its gunmen engaged in “violent clashes” with Israeli forces.

Among those killed was Abdel Fatah Hussein Khroushah, 49, whom the Israeli army has described as a “terrorist agent” for the Islamist movement Hamas and accused of killing two Israeli settlers in the Palestinian town of Huwara on February 26.

At least 26 Palestinians were injured in Tuesday’s raid, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, three of them with serious injuries. The army said two soldiers were slightly injured.

Sirens wailed Tuesday night in Nir Am, a small Israeli town just a few kilometers from the Gaza Strip, after a rocket was fired from Hamas-controlled territory, the Israeli military said.

“A rocket launch has been identified that appears to have exploded in the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a brief statement.

– “Dangerous Escalation” –

It is the latest in a string of deadly military operations in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

After the fighting ended, an AFP journalist entering the rubble of the house where Khroushah had been saw blackened walls riddled with bullet holes and entire walls destroyed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message that the troops had “eliminated the heinous terrorist,” referring to Khroushah.

“Our brave soldiers acted with surgical precision at the heart of the killers’ hideout,” Netanyahu added. “Those who harm us pay the price.”

Palestinian Presidency spokesman Abu Rudeineh said Israel was “responsible for this dangerous escalation that threatens to inflame the situation and thwart any efforts to restore stability.”

Last month, Israeli and Palestinian officials in a joint statement pledged to “prevent further violence” and “commit to de-escalation” following talks in neighboring Jordan.

On Tuesday, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sinan Majali condemned what he called Israeli “aggression” and warned that it “will lead to further deterioration (and) widen cycles of violence.”

Hamas condemned the killing of the six Palestinians, which would only make Palestinians “more determined to confront Israeli occupation and Israeli settler militias.”

Abbas’ Islamic Jihad and Fatah movements made similar condemnations, but also implied that Palestinian security forces were involved in fighting Israeli forces.

– Raid on Nablus –

The Israeli army and state security Shin Bet said on Tuesday they had conducted a separate raid on a refugee camp in the city of Nablus and arrested two of Khroushah’s sons “who are suspected of supporting and planning the terrorist attack”.

Witnesses in Nablus, south of Jenin, said three men had been arrested.

The Israeli raids came amid celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Purim and amid rising tensions since the beginning of the year, coinciding with Netanyahu’s far-right government taking office in December.

Some fear more violence, particularly around Jerusalem’s holy sites during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in late March, and the Jewish holiday of Passover in April.

The killing of two settlers – brothers Yagel Yaniv, 20, and Hallel Yaniv, 22 – in Huwara took place hours after the Jordan summit.

Hundreds of rampaging Israeli settlers later set fire to Palestinian homes and cars in the West Bank city.

Since the beginning of the year, the conflict has claimed the lives of 71 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.

Thirteen Israeli adults and children, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian civilian were killed during the same period, according to official sources from both sides. –AFP Israeli forces kill six Palestinians, including a wanted militant, in a raid on Jenin

Russell Falcon

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