Palestinians: 2 dead in an Israeli military raid in the West Bank
JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians on Saturday in a firefight that erupted in a military raid in the West Bank, according to Israeli and Palestinian accounts, in the latest confrontation that made 2022 the year of deadliest violence in the occupied territory since 2015.
The raid took place in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, the site of repeated clashes between Israeli forces and gunmen and local residents. The camp is known as a stronghold of Palestinian militants and the army often operates there.
Palestinian officials said soldiers entered the camp early Saturday and surrounded a house. In videos posted on social networks, exchanges of fire could be heard. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported two dead and 11 injured, three of them in critical condition.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the dead as Mahmoud al-Sous, 18, and Ahmad Daraghmeh, 16.
The Israeli army said it arrested a 25-year-old member of the Islamic Jihad militant group who had previously been imprisoned by Israel. He said the man had recently been involved in shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers.
He said soldiers opened fire during the raid when dozens of Palestinians threw explosives and opened fire. “Blows have been identified,” the statement said, without giving further details.
Just before noon, Israeli forces appeared to withdraw from the area.
The killing came a day after two Palestinian teenagers, aged 14 and 17, were killed by Israeli fire in separate incidents elsewhere in the occupied West Bank. Rights groups accuse Israeli forces of using excessive force in their dealings with Palestinians, without being held accountable. The Israeli army says it only opens fire in life-threatening situations.
Israel has been operating throughout the territory, particularly in the northern West Bank, since a series of deadly attacks in Israel last spring. Some of the attacks were carried out by Palestinian assailants from the area.
Israel says it is compelled to act because Palestinian security forces, which coordinate with the military in a tense alliance against Islamic militants, are unable or unwilling to clamp down. Palestinian security forces say the military raids have undermined their credibility and public support, especially in the absence of any political process. The last round of substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ended in 2009.
According to Israel, most of those killed were militants. But local youths protesting the incursions as well as civilians have also been killed in the violence. Hundreds of people have been arrested, many held in so-called administrative detention, which allows Israel to detain them without trial or charge. Over 100 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting this year.
The violence is also fueled by deepening disillusionment and anger among young Palestinians over the close security coordination between Israel and the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority, who are working together to apprehend the militants.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and 500,000 Jewish settlers now live in some 130 settlements and other outposts among nearly 3 million Palestinians. The Palestinians want this territory, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, for their future state.