Six Palestinians killed in Israeli army raid in Jenin
Six Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank area, the Palestinian health ministry has said.
Israel’s prime minister said one of the dead had been responsible for killing two Israeli brothers last month.
Their killings, in Hawara further south, led Jewish settlers to rampage through the town in one of the worst such acts in years.
The assault on Hawara drew condemnation from around the world.
The raid on Tuesday afternoon took place in a refugee camp which is a frequent target for Israeli operations against Palestinian militants.
There were reports of heavy exchanges of gunfire, while videos on social media showed smoke billowing from a building and helicopters flying over a long line of military vehicles.
The Israeli military says it used shoulder-launched missiles as it pursued the wanted man and claims local armed fighters shot at troops from an ambulance.
The Palestinian health ministry listed the dead as five men in their 20s and one man of 49, identified as Abdel Fattah Kharousha.
It is understood that he was a member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas from Nablus and had served time in an Israeli jail.
Palestinian sources suggest that he carried out the shooting of the brothers on 26 February. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said two of his sons suspected of assisting with the attack on the brothers were arrested in a simultaneous operation in Nablus on Tuesday.
Hillel Yaniv, 22, and Yagel Yaniv, 20, were killed as they drove through Hawara, about 4 miles (6km) south of Nablus.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a video message, saying Israeli forces had “eliminated the abominable terrorist who murdered [the brothers] in cold blood”.
“Our brave warriors operated surgically in the heart of the murderers’ den.”
A spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the Israeli government was responsible for “this dangerous escalation”, accusing it of waging “all-out war”.
Within hours of the brothers’ killings, hundreds of Jewish settlers stormed into Hawara in revenge, setting fire to dozens of cars and homes. Palestinian officials said 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash was shot dead by the Israeli army when soldiers entered their village with settlers, but the Israeli military said it was not involved. More than 100 Palestinians were injured, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The attack on Hawara was one of the most violent incidents of its kind by Jewish settlers, with tensions and violence between settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank a constant issue.
Palestinians accused the Israeli army of doing nothing to try to stop the settlers from attacking the town. There was further violence in Hawara on Monday night, with security camera footage showing settlers throwing stones at a Palestinian family in a parked car before it managed to speed away.
There has been a surge of violence between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem this year.
At least 70 Palestinians – militants and civilians – have been killed by Israeli forces, and on the Israeli side, 13 people have been killed in attacks, all civilians, except for a paramilitary police officer.
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