Israel-Palestine war: Nine Palestinians killed in West Bank and dozens arrested
The deaths bring the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since 7 October to 144 as the Israeli army continues its ferocious war on Gaza.
A statement by the Israeli army said its forces were "operating against Hamas" on Friday across the West Bank.
Violence by Israeli soldiers and armed settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has escalated in the aftermath of the 7 October incursion by armed Palestinian fighters from Gaza into southern Israel, which killed more than 1,300 civilians and soldiers in Israel.
The subsequent and ongoing Israeli military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip has killed at least 9,200 Palestinians.
A UN official on Friday warned against the escalation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying that Israeli soldiers and settlers have committed human rights violations and war crimes against Palestinians.
On Friday, an Israeli army raid on Jenin city and refugee camp killed five Palestinians, including two fighters from armed resistance groups.
Additionally, Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians in Al-Fawwar camp south of Hebron and another in Qalandiya camp north of Jerusalem.
A ninth Palestinian succumbed to his wounds in the village of Tel, west of Nablus, after being shot by an Israeli soldier on Thursday.
The latest incursion in Jenin is the most violent since the invasion of the camp by Israeli forces in July. The camp is a stronghold of Palestinian resistance fighters and has been the target of deadly incursions in the past.
Israeli special forces and military vehicles stormed the area overnight on Friday, while bulldozing the streets surrounding the camp.
During the operation, an Israeli drone bombed a group of Palestinian fighters, killing two, including a 17-year-old, while three other Palestinians were shot dead by soldiers.
Journalist Laila Hamarsheh from Jenin said the incursion seemed to be aimed at inflicting further damage on the camp's infrastructure.
“The bulldozers dug up the streets, destroyed a number of roundabouts, and demolished the facades of stores on Nazareth Street, while smashing their doors. Destroying the infrastructure was one of the goals of the raid,” she told MEE.
Meanwhile, journalist Montaser Nassar from Hebron said that the Israeli army stormed Al-Fawwar refugee camp with large numbers of military vehicles with the aim of detaining Palestinians.
He added that dozens of soldiers stormed the home of Abdullah Rasras in the camp to detain him, but when they didn’t find him, they arrested his elderly parents to pressure him to surrender himself. They were released hours later after he handed himself in.
According to Nassar, the soldiers also raided an iron lathe workshop in the camp, confiscated its contents, and arrested its owner.
During the incursion, violent confrontations broke out, and during the withdrawal of the Israeli military vehicles, they were exposed to fire from resistance fighters, Nassar said.
"The Israeli army responded by firing intensely and indiscriminately everywhere, which led to the death of two camp residents," he added. The Palestinian health ministry said two men aged 33 and 36 were killed in the attack.
Other casualties were transported by private vehicles to Yatta Governmental Hospital, south of Hebron, as a result of the entrances to the camp being closed with iron gates preventing ambulances from entering.
Nassar pointed out that the camp has been under Israeli siege and closed with gates since 7 October, and its residents are prevented from leaving.
In Qalandiya camp, north of Jerusalem, the Israeli army stormed a number of Palestinian homes and arrested at least ten people. Clashes broke out during which a young man was killed and others were wounded by Israeli army fire.
In addition to the killings, the Israeli army carried out a massive arrest campaign in the West Bank, detaining at least 50 Palestinians.
Also on Friday, Israeli military vehicles stormed the eastern area of the city of Nablus, and blew up the house of prisoner Qassam Kharousha, whose father carried out a shooting attack in the town of Huwwara, south of Nablus, in February, which killed two Israeli settlers.
The father was killed during an incursion into Jenin camp on 7 March, and his house has also been demolished. His son was detained following the 7 October attack.
Meanwhile, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said on Friday that the situation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has escalated in an "alarming and urgent" manner in tandem with Israel's military assault in Gaza.
She warned of "the increasing and multi-layered human rights violations of Palestinians occurring there", highlighting that between 7 October and 2 November, attacks by Israeli soldiers and settlers killed 132 Palestinians, including 41 children, while two Israeli soldiers have been killed.
She added that settler violence is now averaging seven attacks a day, and that firearms were used in more than a third of these attacks.
"We have documented that, in many of these incidents, settlers were accompanied by members of the Israeli forces, or the settlers were wearing uniforms and carrying army rifles," she said.
"Along with the near total impunity for settler violence, we are concerned that armed settlers have been acting with the acquiescence and collaboration of Israeli forces and authorities."
Throssell added that the escalation in violence has forced entire communities off their lands, and that the UN has documented that nearly 1000 Palestinians from at least 15 herding communities have been forced from their home in what may constitute "forcible transfer of the population", a war crime according to the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a party.
Throssell said that armed settlers have repeatedly threatened Palestinians with death if they didn't evacuate their homes.
"In one chilling example of the intimidation communities are facing, pamphlets were reportedly left by settlers on Palestinian vehicles with threatening messages telling them to leave now or face 'elimination'," she added.
The UN official also highlighted that Israeli forces had only arrested two settlers since the beginning of the escalation, while detaining 2,000 Palestinians during the same period.
"We have received credible and consistent reports indicating a further increase in the ill-treatment of detainees, which in many cases could amount to torture.
"Two Palestinians arrested since 7 October have died in custody. Those detained are reportedly not granted due process and judicial guarantees, as required by international law," she said.