Palestinians during clashes with the Israeli army in the city of Nablus, February 22, 2023.
Jerusalem/New York – Today, 11 Palestinians, including at least four militants and four civilians, were killed in an Israeli military strike in the occupied West Bank. More than 100 were injured, Reuters reported, citing witnesses and medics. According to her, during the operation in the city of Nablus, Israeli soldiers intervened against militants from the radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. According to the AP agency, it was one of the bloodiest incidents in almost a year of intense clashes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Washington expressed deep concern and UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for an immediate de-escalation.
The Israeli army confirmed its operation in Nablus, where it intervenes often. She said the soldiers returned fire after the gunmen opened fire on them when they came to arrest the radicals suspected of planning the attacks. The incident caused no Israeli casualties, the army said. A senior military official told reporters that the raid lasted about four hours, with gunmen firing at the soldiers from nearby rooftops and from motorcycles.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said Israeli troops had surrounded a house in Nablus containing two of its commanders, sparking a clash involving other militants. Explosions were heard at the scene and local youths threw stones at the armored vehicles.
Palestinian sources said the two Islamic Jihad commanders were killed along with another gunman. At least four civilians, including a 72-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy, were also among the dead, Reuters reported. According to medics, another 102 Palestinians were injured, six of them seriously.
The Palestinian Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip and sometimes fights alongside Islamic Jihad, said there were four gunmen, including one from Hamas. At the same time, Hamas indicated that it could retaliate.
“We condemn the raid by the occupiers in Nablus and call for an end to the ongoing attacks against our people,” said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudajna.
The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, i.e. the territories Israel seized during the 1967 war. Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and it is now controlled by the radical Hamas movement. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and occupies the West Bank. 500,000 Jewish settlers and roughly three million Palestinians live in the West Bank.
“The United States is very concerned about the level of violence in Israel and the West Bank,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the US Department of Foreign Affairs. He did not directly criticize the actions of the Israeli troops, but added that although Washington takes into account the real concerns of Israel, it is concerned by the high number of wounded and civilian deaths. to prevent further violence. At the same time, he said that the construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories should be stopped immediately, and he condemned terrorism. “Every new settlement is another obstacle on the road to peace. All settlement activity is illegal under international law and must be stopped. Inciting violence is also a dead end. Nothing justifies terrorism, (which) everyone must reject,” Guterres said, according to AFP. He described the situation in the West Bank as the most turbulent in recent years. “Our immediate priority must be to prevent further escalation, reduce tensions and restore calm,” he said.
Saudi Arabia condemned the raid and Egypt's foreign ministry, which often acts as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, expressed concern.