Israeli forces kill five Palestinians during raids near Jenin and Jerusalem
Israeli forces killed at least five Palestinians during military raids across the occupied West Bank on Sunday near the city of Jenin and northwest of Jerusalem.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said two Israeli soldiers were critically injured during the raids, an officer and a soldier from the Dovdovan unit.
Israeli raids were reported to have taken place in Burqin, Qabatiya, Kafr Dan, Biddu and Beit Anan, with gunfire exchanged.
Three of the Palestinians, who were all from Biddu, were killed in the village of Beit Anan.
The men were identified by their families as Ahmad Zahran, Mahmoud Hmaidan and Zakariya Badwan.
A one-day general strike was declared on Sunday in Beit Anan and Biddu in protest against the deaths.
At least two Palestinians were also killed by Israeli forces near Jenin.
Israel was reported to be holding four of the bodies of the Palestinians, the three from Beit Anan and one of those from near Jenin.
Call for unity
Local officials said that one of those killed near Jenin was a 22-year-old Palestinian called Osama Sobh from the village of Burqin, southwest of Jenin city.
Muhammad al-Sabah, the mayor of Burqin, told MEE that Sobh succumbed to his wounds after being taken to Jenin hospital. He was buried in Burqin later on Sunday.
Sabah said the Israeli army also wounded six other Palestinians who were taken to hospital.
The armed group Islamic Jihad said in a statement that Sobh was a member of the organization's al-Quds Brigades military wing.
"We call on all the factions to act together and in cooperation with the al-Quds Brigades to fight the Zionist enemy," the statement further read.
Images posted online showed Israeli soldiers carting away a dead body from Beit Anan.
'Chasing him for weeks'
Israeli army spokesman Amnon Scheffler claimed that all the fatalities were Hamas fighters.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, en route to the United Nations in New York, said that the Israeli troops acted in the West Bank against Hamas fighters "who were about to carry out immediate attacks".
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killings and said "the heinous crime committed by Israel in the Jerusalem and Jenin area and the killing of five Palestinians".
But Zahran's family accused the PA of aiding the Israeli army operation that killed their relative, according to Quds.net
"The PA is the one who sent the Israelis to us," said Zahran's mother, who noted that Israeli forces had been chasing him for weeks and interrogated and arrested family members before killing him.
Early morning raids
The mayor of Beit Anan, Muhammad Ragheb Rabie, told MEE that troops from the Israeli army's walking unit had stormed the village at around 3 am and later headed to the Ein Ajab area in northwest Jerusalem.
"We could hear sounds of fighting from the area, which is an industrial zone that contains poultry farms and crushers," said Rabie.
He said the Israeli army was seen transporting casualties during its withdrawal.
He added that blood and residue from the Israeli army raid could be seen in the area and noted that the Israelis had prevented residents from entering and leaving the village.
Sabah also said that forces from the Israeli army stormed Burqin at 3 am and surrounded the home of resident Muhammad al-Zareini.
"Israeli forces fired intensely at Muhammad al-Zareini's home where his wife and children lived before withdrawing at 7 am after they arrested him," said Sabah.
"The occupation forces violently raid my village all the time, and when they do, the Israelis often fire live bullets at homes and civilians in the area."
Last month, the Israeli army killed four Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp during an operation that led to armed clashes.