Monday, February 26, 2024

Nine Palestinians, two Israelis killed in West Bank violence

At least nine Palestinians and two Israelis have been killed in the fresh violence across the occupied West Bank.

At least seven Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike on the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Sunday.

The strike targeted a gathering of citizens, the ministry said. Four brothers were among the dead, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Israeli police announced an officer was killed when her “vehicle… was hit by an explosive device” during a raid in Jenin, adding that three other officers were wounded.

In a separate incident, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian girl in a car at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank when they opened fire on another car suspected of a ramming attack, Israeli emergency services said.

Four-year-old Ruqaya Ahmed Odeh Jahaleen was killed when Israeli forces opened fire at the Beit Iksa checkpoint northwest of Jerusalem, Wafa reported.

Israeli forces said a van driver swerved into officers at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, prompting them to open fire.

“As a result of shooting at the terrorists, a girl who was in another vehicle at the checkpoint was hurt,” they added.

It was not immediately clear if there were other casualties in the incident.

Earlier, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli army fire in Abwein village north of Ramallah, said the health ministry. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Elsewhere in the Ramallah area, an Israeli civilian was shot dead, according to the army, which announced forces were searching for the assailant.

The Israel man was “killed adjacent to the British police junction” north of Ramallah, it said in a statement.

Violence in the West Bank has surged to levels unseen in nearly two decades since October 7, when Israel launched an assault on Gaza after Hamas fighters from the territory attacked southern Israel.

Israeli forces carry out regular raids in the West Bank including Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp, often triggering gun battles between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces.

Wafa reported early on Sunday a major deployment of Israeli troops in Jenin.

The Israeli army stormed Jenin at about 1am (23:00 GMT on Saturday) and left at about 5am (03:00 GMT), said Al Jazeera’s Laura Khan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.

“We know that there was at least one IED [improvised explosive device] that exploded and destroyed an Israeli army vehicle,” she said, adding that there was “fierce resistance” from fighters in the camp.

A border police officer was killed and at least three other Israeli soldiers were wounded when their vehicle was hit by the IED blast, Israel claimed.

A helicopter helped rescue them with covering fire, the military said, adding that an aircraft fired at a “terrorist squad that hurled explosives and endangered our forces” and that “a number of terrorists were killed”.

“This is just part of the nightly raids that we’re witnessing in the occupied West Bank,” added Khan.

The Jenin Brigades, an armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack on the Israeli forces.

“We know, at least 5,600 people have been arrested, more than 3,000 injured and with this latest death toll, we’re looking at around 332 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7,” Khan said.

Al Jazeera’s team in the occupied West Bank reported that Israeli forces also raided the cities of Nablus, Hebron, Qalqilya and Jericho overnight.

In Nablus, Israeli forces arrested a young Palestinian after raiding her home, according to video footage verified by Al Jazeera.

Nightly raids by the Israeli army have been taking place for almost two years, but they have intensified following the attack by Hamas on October 7, which killed about 1,140 people in Israel.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has since killed at least 22,800 Palestinians and injured more than 58,000 people.

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