JERUSALEM (AP) — Two Palestinians were killed Wednesday in separate violent confrontations with Israelis in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian authorities said, one during an Israeli military arrest raid in the territory's north and another after stabbing and wounding an Israeli civilian at a southern settlement.
Wednesday's violence was the latest in a surge in attacks in the West Bank, following the deadliest year for Palestinians in the territory in 18 years.
During a pre-dawn Israeli military incursion into the hardscrabble Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus, Israeli forces shot 21-year-old Ahmed Abu Junaid in the head and he died several hours later, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The Israeli army reported a gunfight between Palestinian militants and Israeli security forces in Balata refugee camp, acknowledging that a Palestinian was hit by Israeli fire. Palestinian health officials said that Israeli special forces surrounded a house in the congested camp during the arrest operation and unleashed live fire, tear gas and stun grenades at a crowd of young men.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade — an armed militia affiliated with Fatah, the secular political party that controls the Palestinian Authority — claimed Abu Junaid as a fighter. Pictures of him brandishing a rifle were shared widely on social media.
Later on Wednesday, a Palestinian assailant stabbed a 30-year-old Israeli at a settlement in the southern West Bank before being shot and killed by an Israeli passer-by, Israeli paramedics said. The Israeli victim was hospitalized for moderate wounds but remains fully conscious, authorities said. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the assailant as Sanad Samamreh from the southern Palestinian village of al-Dhahiriya.
The attack took place at the Havat Yehuda outpost, an illegal settlement near the flash point city of Hebron. Israel has constructed dozens of Jewish settlements that are home to around 500,000 Israelis who live alongside around 2.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians and most of the international community view the settlements as a violation of international law.
Israeli military raids have surged in the West Bank since last March, when the army began an operation to curb a wave of Palestinian attacks within Israel last spring that killed 19 Israelis. At least 146 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in 2022 in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem. Last year’s death toll was the highest since 2004, during a wave of intense violence known as the Second Intifada, or Palestinain uprising.
The Israeli army 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 meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see them as further entrenchment of Israel’s 55-year, open-ended occupation of the West Bank.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians seek those territories for a future state.