Jerusalem — Israeli forces killed at least nine Palestinians, including a 60-year-old woman, and wounded at least 20 others during a raid in a flashpoint area of the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said, in one of the deadliest days in months of unrest.
The violence occurred during what Palestinian health officials described as a fierce operation in the Jenin refugee camp, a militant stronghold of the West Bank that has been a focus of nearly a year of Israeli arrest raids.
The Israeli military said forces were operating in the area but didn’t immediately provide any other details. Israeli media reported troops came under fire during the raid. At least one of the dead was identified as a militant.
Palestinian Health Minister May Al-Kaila said paramedics were struggling to reach the wounded amid the fighting. She called the situation in the refugee camp “critical,” according to Agence France-Presse.
She also accused the military of firing tear gas at the pediatric ward of a hospital, causing children to choke. The military had no immediate comment.
Jenin deputy governor Kamal Abu al-Rub told AFP residents were living in a “real state of war.”
“The Israeli army is destroying everything and shooting at everything that moves,” he said.
Jenin hospital identified the woman killed as Magda Obaid. The Palestinian Health Ministry earlier identified another one of the dead as Saeb Azriqi, 24, who was brought to a hospital in critical condition after being shot and then died from his wounds. And the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade – an armed militia affiliated with Fatah, the secular political party that controls the Palestinian Authority, claimed one of the dead, Izz al-Din Salahat, as a fighter. The ministry said at least 16 people were wounded.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, condemned the violence, calling on the international community to speak out against it.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have soared since Israel launched the raids last spring, following a spate of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people, while another round of attacks later in the year brought the death toll to 30.
Thursday’s violence brings the number of Palestinians killed this year to 29. Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year, making 2022 the deadliest since 2004, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Israel says most of the dead were militants. But youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.
Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians say they further entrench Israel’s 55-year, open-ended occupation of lands they seek for a future state.
Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians claim for their hoped-for state.