Six Palestinians, including the perpetrator of a recent attack that claimed the lives of two Israelis, were killed on Tuesday in a new Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank, the latest episode in a wave of violence that seems not to want ebb.
Witnesses say Israeli forces surrounded a house in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank, and fierce clashes pitted them against armed men entrenched inside, but also Palestinian fighters outside.
Israeli forces fired two rockets at the house they are besieging, these witnesses said, and an AFP photographer saw several Israeli armored vehicles moving through the streets of the camp, a veritable city within a city.
The Palestinian Health Ministry announced the deaths of six Palestinians "killed by the [Israeli] occupation in Jenin", five men aged 22 and 29 and another aged 49.
At least 16 other people were injured by gunfire, two of whom are in serious condition, according to the ministry.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in a statement that Israeli forces had "eliminated the heinous terrorist" who carried out the February 26 attack that claimed the lives of two brothers living in a Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank, territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
In a statement reproduced by the official Palestinian agency Wafa, Nabil Abou Roudeina, spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, denounced as an act of "total war" the use of rockets against houses in the city and accused the Israeli government to be "responsible for [a] dangerous escalation which threatens to inflame the situation and destroy all efforts aimed at restoring stability".
The Israeli army said in a brief statement shortly before 3:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. GMT) that the Israeli security forces were "in operation" in the Palestinian autonomous zone, in the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of Palestinian armed groups.
Asked by AFP more than an hour and a half later, the army said it had "no information to give" at this stage.
A Telegram account linked to the Jenin Brigades said fighters from the local armed group were "engaged in heavy fighting" against Israeli forces inside the camp.
Since the beginning of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 71 Palestinians (including combatants and civilians, including minors) and 13 Israelis (including minors and security forces) and one Ukrainian woman , according to an AFP count compiled from official Israeli and Palestinian sources.
The Israeli military incursion comes amid celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Purim, and against a backdrop of escalating violence since the beginning of the year after one of the most vulnerable governments took office in late December. right in the history of Israel, led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
After a rare meeting under the auspices of Jordan, Egypt and the United States in Aqaba (Jordan), Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged on February 26 to "prevent any new violence" and to work towards "de-escalation".
But even as this meeting was taking place, two young Israelis living in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank were shot dead in the north of this occupied Palestinian territory, and the following night, Jewish settlers attacked the Palestinian town of Huwara in retaliation, setting fire to several buildings.
As the start of Ramadan approaches, during which Passover is due to fall this year in early April, many observers fear that an incident on the esplanade of the Mosques of Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, built on the ruins of the Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70, degenerated into an outbreak of uncontrollable violence.
In addition, in Nablus, another city in the north of the West Bank, the Israeli army carried out a brief incursion into the Askar refugee camp, where it arrested three brothers from the same family, according to witnesses.
07/03/2023 17:28:08 - Jenin (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP