This was the most violent clash between Israeli forces in the West Bank and Palestinian militants for several weeks. In recent months, the region has witnessed an increase in fighting. Tensions have been fueled by Israeli settlement building, militant activity in northern West Bank, and the aftermath of a bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas militants within the Gaza Strip.
Officials from Israel claimed that they had been following Hamas militants over several weeks and that the raids were in response to imminent threats.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that militants were ready to launch attacks "in real-time." He also praised Israeli forces for acting "as expected." They engaged the enemy, and we support them fully."
An Israeli army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Amnon Schefler, stated that Israeli forces were under fire as they carried out the raids. He claimed that at least four Hamas operatives were shot dead and many others were detained during the overnight operation.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, two Palestinians were shot and killed near Jenin in northern West Bank. Three others were also killed in Biddu north of Jerusalem. According to the Israeli military, an officer and a soldier sustained serious injuries in the Burqin arrest near Jenin. They were then flown to a hospital for treatment.
Hamas confirmed that four victims, including the three who were killed in Biddu massacre, were members the Islamic militant group. Officials from Palestine said that a 16-year old boy was also among those killed, although it was not known immediately if he was a militant.
The Palestinian Authority, which manages semi-autonomous West Bank areas, condemned the killings, and stated that the Israeli government was "fully, directly responsible for this bloody morning" and the crimes of the occupation forces.
Abdulatif al-Qanou, Hamas spokesperson, stated that recent meetings between Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President, and Israeli officials "encouraged occupation again to pursue resistance."
Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza Strip since it seized it from the Palestinian Authority back in 2007, called those who died "heroic martyrs" and asked its supporters to "devise strategies and means that harm enemy and drain it with every form of resistance."
After nearly two years imprisonment, Israel released Khalida Jarrar (a prominent Palestinian lawmaker) on Sunday. Jarrar is a prominent figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He has been in Israeli prisons for many years, often without being charged.
Jarrar is not involved in any attacks. The PFLP has an armed wing. It is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and Western countries. In March, she was sentenced to two-years imprisonment for her membership in a prohibited group. However, credit was given for the time she had already served. Her sentence was due to expire in a few weeks. She was released several weeks later.
In the West Bank, violence has increased in recent months. More than 20 Palestinians were killed during protests and in sporadic clashes against Israeli troops.
Many clashes took place near Beita in Palestine, where residents protest against unauthorized settlement outposts. Jenin is also a stronghold for militants.
Four Palestinians were killed last month when Israeli troops clashed in Jenin with Palestinian gunmen. The clashes on Sunday came one week after Israel captured six Palestinian fugitives from a maximum security Israeli prison. Two of the escapees were found in Jenin and were captured there following a thorough search.
Nearly 500,000 people live in settlements that Israel established after it captured the West Bank during the 1967 Mideast War. The West Bank is a part of the future Palestinian state. They view the settlements in this area as a significant obstacle to the resolution of the conflict.