Israeli army kills 3 Palestinians during West Bank raids

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military shot and killed three Palestinians during arrest raids in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said, the latest bloodshed in months of rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

The military, which has been carrying out near-nightly raids in the territory since early last year, said soldiers who entered the Qalandia refugee camp before dawn were bombarded by rocks and cement blocks. In response, the military said troops opened fire at Palestinians throwing objects from rooftops. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the man killed as Samir Aslan, 41.

Aslan’s sister, Noura Aslan, said Israeli security forces broke into their house at 2:30 a.m. to arrest his 18-year-old son, Ramzi. As Ramzi was being hauled away, his father sprinted to the rooftop to see what was happening, she said. Within moments, an Israeli sniper shot him in the back.

Aslan’s wife called an ambulance, but Noura said the army initially prevented medics from reaching the house. As Aslan was bleeding, his family dragged his body down the stairs and called for help. An ambulance picked him up some 20 minutes later, Noura said.

The Israeli army also raided the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday, entering the village of Qabatiya south of the flash point city of Jenin and surrounding a house in the town. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that Israeli forces fatally shot 25-year-old Habib Kamil and 18-year-old Abdel Hadi Nazal.

The Israeli army said security forces entered Qabatiya to arrest Muhammad Alauna, a Palestinian suspected of planning militant attacks. The army said soldiers shot at a number of Palestinians during the raid, including a man who tried to flee the scene with Alauna, a gunman who fired at the forces from inside his car as well as a group of Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli troops. It was not immediately clear what Kamil was doing when he was shot.

The deaths on Thursday bring the total number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank this year to nine, including two Palestinians killed Wednesday in separate incidents in the West Bank. One was killed during an Israeli military arrest raid in the territory’s north and another after stabbing and wounding an Israeli man in a southern settlement.

Israel ramped up its military raids last spring, after a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed 19 people. Israel says the operations are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see them as further entrenchment of Israel’s 55-year, open-ended occupation of land they seek for their future state.

The raids sharply escalated tensions and helped fuel another wave of Palestinian attacks in the fall that killed 10 Israelis. Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported, making last year the deadliest since 2004.

The heightened violence comes as Israel’s new ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox government — it’s most right-wing ever — is charting its legislative agenda, one that is expected to take a tough line against the Palestinians and drive up settlement construction in the West Bank.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories the Palestinians want for their future independent state. Israel has since settled 500,000 people in about 130 settlements across the West Bank, which the Palestinians and much of the international community view as an obstacle to peace.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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