11 Palestinians killed, dozens shot dead in Israeli raid on West Bank
NABLUS (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) – An Israeli army raid in Nablus on Wednesday killed 11 Palestinians, including a teenager, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, in the deadliest escalation in the occupied West Bank since 2005.
More than 80 Palestinians suffered gunshot wounds, the Palestinian Ministry said in an operation the Israeli army described as an “anti-terrorist operation,” sparking international concern and calling for calm.
Senior Palestinian official Hussein Al Sheikh condemned the invasion as a “massacre” and called for “international protection for our people.”
The Israeli army said the raid was aimed at militant suspects “in a hidden apartment” accused of the West Bank shooting. It added that troops came under fire but suffered no casualties.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is at its most volatile in years,” with “sky-high tensions” as “the peace process remains stalled.”
“Our immediate priority must be to prevent further escalation, defuse tensions and restore calm,” Guterres told the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
The death toll surpassed that of an Israeli army raid last month in Jenin, further north, which had been the deadliest operation in the West Bank since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of 2000-2005.
The Israeli military said one of the wanted suspects, who fled the building, was “neutralized” along with two others who opened fire on the property.
The suspects and Israeli forces “exchanged fire… there were also rockets fired at the house by the army,” spokesman Richard Hecht told reporters.
Stones, explosive devices and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the troops, the army said.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said those killed “as a result of the occupation’s aggression on Nablus” were between 16 and 72 years old.
Hours after the raid, the ministry announced the death of a 66-year-old man from tear gas inhalation.
– ‘Explosions and Gunshots’ –
Another 82 people were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds, Palestinian health officials said.
Mostafa Shaheen, a resident of Nablus, said around 9:30 am (0730 GMT) that “soldiers … have besieged the whole area”.
“We kept hearing the explosions and shots,” he told the AFP news agency.
Among the wounded is Palestinian TV journalist Mohammed Al Khatib, who was shot in the hand, his colleague told AFP.
The Islamic Jihad militant group said one of its commanders was killed “in a heroic fight”.
The leader of the Gaza-based group, Ziad al-Nakhala, called the raid a “grave crime” that “the Resistance must react”.
The Lion’s Den, a militant group based in Nablus, said six of those killed were members of various Palestinian factions.
The troops withdrew from the city after three hours, an AFP journalist said.
Defense Secretary Yoav Gallant hailed the “courage” of the armed forces, saying on Twitter that Israel’s “long arm” will reach “any terrorist.”
In the afternoon, a large crowd of mourners, including gunmen, gathered in central Nablus and in the nearby Balata refugee camp to bury 10 of those killed, AFP correspondents said.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said its medics had treated 250 cases of tear gas inhalation and dozens of gunshot wounds.
– ‘Spiral Violence’ –
The Arab League spoke of a “heinous crime”.
“The occupation authorities and the far-right Israeli government are responsible for this horrific massacre,” said Saeed Abu Ali, the League’s deputy secretary-general for Palestinian affairs.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington was “extremely concerned by the level of violence.”
“We recognize the very real security concerns Israel faces. At the same time, we are deeply concerned at the large number of casualties and loss of civilian life.”
The European Union “is deeply concerned by the spiral of violence in the West Bank,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
He called on “all parties” to work towards “restoring calm and … avoiding further deaths.”
France condemned the acts of violence against civilians and reiterated Israel’s commitment to respect international humanitarian law and to use appropriate force.
“As the violence continues to escalate, she urges all actors to refrain from doing anything that could fuel this spiral,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Neighboring Jordan said it will “work intensively with all parties to achieve calm”.
Since the beginning of this year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 60 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.
Nine Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer and a Ukrainian civilian, were killed during the same period, according to official sources from both sides.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and separately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, urging both to “restore calm.”
Israel has occupied Palestinian territory since the 1967 Six-Day War.
Last year was the deadliest year in the territory since the United Nations began tracking victims in 2005.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch