March 5. 2024. 1:03

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At least seven Palestinians killed in Israeli West Bank raid

At least seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on Tuesday during a raid in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin.

The target of the raid was Abdul Fattah Hussein Khrousheh (49), a Hamas militant suspected by Israel of carrying out the killing of two settler brothers nine days ago in the West Bank town of Hawara.

Israeli troops surrounded a building in the camp where Mr Khrousheh and other militants were hiding out and operated what in Israeli military parlance is referred to as “pressure cooker tactics”, eventually firing anti-tank missiles at the structure, which collapsed killing those inside.

But the operation in the militant stronghold in broad daylight quickly developed into a fierce firefight in which more than two dozen Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were wounded. Palestinian gunmen shot down two Israeli drones during the fighting.

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In parallel, Israeli troops also raided Nablus, another northern West Bank city with a reputation in Israel for militant activity. Mr Khrousheh’s two sons, who Israel believes knew in advance about the Hawara attack, were detained during the raid in the Nablus Askar refugee camp.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli government bore responsibility for what he termed “this dangerous escalation”. The Palestinian foreign ministry said: “The occupation’s massacre of Jenin and Nablus shows Israel has chosen escalation over peace, and therefore carries all responsibility for future ramifications.”

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised the troops who “eliminated the despicable terrorist who murdered the two brothers in cold blood”. He said this was proof that “whoever harms us, on his own head be it”.

Following Tuesday’s events Israeli troops went on a high state of alert across the West Bank and on the seam line that separates Israel from the occupied territory. Israel was also bracing for the possibility of militant rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Recent raids in northern West Bank cities have resulted in high Palestinian death tolls, making the last few months one of the deadliest the area has seen in decades.

The latest violence comes only a few weeks before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which in recent years has seen a spike in violence.

Tension is already high after the Hawara shooting and the response of settlers who torched dozens of cars and houses in the town, drawing condemnation from around the world. Palestinians accused the Israeli army of doing nothing to stop the settlers attacking the town.

The latest incidents come despite a meeting last week in Jordan, mediated by US officials, when Israeli and Palestinian representatives pledged to de-escalate tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.