TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank and unrest in the Gaza Strip have killed six Palestinians, Palestinian health officials said Wednesday, the latest spike in a wave of violence that has roiled the region for more than a year. At least three of those killed were claimed as militant fighters.
The death toll from the most recent flare-up stood at four late Tuesday. But on Wednesday the Palestinian Health Ministry raised it, saying an Israeli raid into the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank killed four people and wounded some 30 others, while a raid in a separate refugee camp killed another Palestinian. A sixth Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in unrest in the Gaza Strip, officials said.
The deadly violence between Israel and the Palestinians over the last year and a half has surged to levels unseen in the West Bank in some two decades. Israel has stepped up its raids on Palestinian areas and Palestinian attacks against Israelis have been mounting. Tensions also appear to be spreading to Gaza.
The Israeli military said Wednesday that troops opened fire toward a Palestinian who was throwing explosives at them while they were on an overnight arrest raid in the refugee camp of Aqabat Jabr. The camp, near the Palestinian city of Jericho, has emerged as one of the focal points of Israel’s raids.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces killed 19-year-old Dhargham al-Akhras in the raid.
The bloodshed in the Jenin camp hours earlier was the latest in that stronghold of Palestinian militants where the Israeli military often carries out deadly raids. In July, Israel launched its most intense operation in the West Bank in nearly two decades, leaving widespread destruction in the camp.
The army said that forces carried out a rare strike Tuesday with a suicide drone during the operation and exchanged fire with gunmen in Jenin. While leaving the camp, the army said, an explosive detonated underneath an army truck as gunmen opened fire, damaging the vehicle. No soldiers were injured.
Three of those killed in Jenin were claimed as members of the Hamas militant group or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and were identified as Mahmoud al-Sadi, 23, Mahmoud Ararawi, 24, and Ata Yasser Musa, 29.
Videos posted on social media showed medics unloading the wounded at a hospital, while in other videos, explosions and gunfire could be heard echoing in the camp. As Israeli soldiers withdrew, a crowd of young men chanted: “Oh, you who ask, who are we? We are the Jenin Brigade.”
After the Israeli military withdrew from the Jenin camp, dozens of gunmen and residents poured into the streets to protest against the Palestinian Authority and its failure to protect them, according to footage shared by residents.
Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks.
Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the year, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.
At least 31 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis since the beginning of 2023.
In the Gaza violence, health officials said the Israeli military killed a 25-year-old Palestinian along the volatile frontier with Israel as youths mounted violent protests at a separation fence.
Unrest over the past week has escalated tensions and prompted Israel to bar entry to thousands of Palestinian laborers from the impoverished enclave.
Over the last week, dozens of Palestinians — burning tires and hurling explosive devices at Israeli soldiers — have streamed toward the fence separating Israel from Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007. Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent the ruling Hamas militant group from arming itself.
Hamas says youths have organized the protests in response to Israeli provocations.
Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.