Israel’s military carried out an arrest raid in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank and killed two Palestinians in gunbattles Friday, according to Palestinian reports, and the army said later it killed a Palestinian who carried out a shooting near a settlement, wounding an Israeli civilian.
It was the latest bloodshed in what has become the deadliest year in the territory since 2015.
Palestinian militant groups claimed both slain men in the Jenin refugee camp as members, though there were conflicting statements about the circumstances surrounding the death of one of them, a hospital doctor.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Dr. Abdullah al-Ahmed was on duty, attending to the wounded outside his hospital, when he was shot.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed offshoot of the secular Fatah party, claimed he was a member. In a poster announcing his death, the group said he died “in an armed clash” with Israeli forces “defending the homeland.” The poster showed him posing with two assault rifles.
The second man killed Friday was identified by the militant group Islamic Jihad as a field commander. The camp is a stronghold of Islamic Jihad, a Fatah rival, and has been a frequent flash point for confrontations.
Five people were wounded in the fighting, including two paramedics, as an ambulance was caught in the crossfire, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Video showed an ambulance trapped in a narrow alley of the camp trying to retrieve a dead body as gunshots rang out.
The Israeli army said it entered Jenin on Friday to arrest a wanted Hamas militant who had carried out recent attacks against Israeli security forces. Diaa Muhammad Yusef Salama, 24, was armed with an M-16 assault rifle as Israeli security forces apprehended him and two other suspects, it added.
The raid set off a gunfight between soldiers and armed Palestinians. Photos showed smoke billowing from the camp after militants apparently detonated explosives. The army said it opened fire on the armed men and warned uninvolved residents that they were risking their lives by being in the area.
At one point, a firefight erupted outside the local hospital, witnesses said. The doctor who worked in the licensing department was shot in the head as he left the building to tend to a wounded man in the hospital yard, said hospital director Wisam Bakr, adding he knew nothing about reports al-Ahmed belonged to a militant group.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned Friday’s shootings as “extrajudicial killings.”
“The Israeli government has crossed all the red lines,” he said.
Violence in settlements
On Friday evening, the Israeli military said it killed a Palestinian attacker who opened fire and wounded a civilian near Beit El settlement, outside Ramallah town. It said a search was underway for more suspects.
Also on Friday, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian houses in the village of Hawara in the northern West Bank, Wafa reported. Videos circulated online by witnesses showed settlers from a nearby Jewish settlement throwing rocks at a house in the village.
Other videos showed Israeli soldiers scuffling with villagers who tried to protect the houses from the settlers.
Palestinian medics said 66 people were injured during clashes with Israeli forces, two of them with live bullets. The majority sustained breathing difficulties because of tear gas, they said.
A day earlier, settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement rampaged through the village.
More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2015. The fighting has surged since a series of Palestinian attacks in the spring killed 19 people in Israel.
Israel says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
Israel says the raids are needed to dismantle militant networks at a time when Palestinian security forces are unable or unwilling to do so.
The Palestinians say the raids undermine their security forces and are aimed at cementing Israel’s open-ended 55-year-old occupation of lands they want for their hoped-for state. Hundreds of Palestinians have been rounded up in such raids, with many placed in administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold them without trial or charge.
The tensions spilled over into east Jerusalem this week, as Israeli police fired live rounds, tear gas and stun grenades on Palestinians throwing stones and fireworks across several neighborhoods in the contested city. Two Israelis were hurt in the confrontations, Israeli police said on Friday, adding that security forces arrested 18 suspects on charges of disturbing public order.
The police said they scaled up their presence at flashpoint areas across the city.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.