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Israeli military operation in Nablus leaves several dead

February 22, 2023

The Israeli military said it targeted Palestinian militants in an operation in Nablus. Palestinians said over 100 people were injured and an elderly man and teenager were among 11 who died during the raid.

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Smoke rises in Nablus after fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Nablus
The Israeli forces' operation in Nablus occurred during the day. The Israeli military typically conducts its raids in the West Bank at nightImage: Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo/picture alliance

An Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Nablus left 11 people dead on Wednesday, according to officials in the region.

Israel says militants targeted

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its goal was to detain Palestinian militants tied to shootings in the West Bank.

A faction of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group said two of its commanders were surrounded by Israeli forces in the operation. PIJ is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel as well as the United States, European Union and several other countries.

The Israeli military said it circled the building where the militants were hiding; a shootout ensued after the militants did not surrender to the Israeli authorities. 

When one of the militants tried to flee the building, he was shot and killed, said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an IDF spokesman. The military then fired missiles at the house, he added, leaving it in ruins and killing the other two men. There were no Israeli casualties.

A new militant cell based in Nablus, known as Lion's Den, said its members were targeted in the raid. The Israeli military said one of its soldiers was killed by Lion's Den in October. 

Inspectors survey damage at the site where the shootout occurred
The shootout caused damage in the historic Old City of NablusImage: Raneen Sawafta/REUTERS

Palestinian health officials say elderly man and teenage boy killed

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 10 people were killed in the raid, including a 72-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy. The Ramallah-based health ministry said over 100 people were injured in the Israeli raid. 

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the raid in Nablus and called "for an end to the continued attacks against our people."

The armed wing of Hamas, the Islamist organization that rules the Gaza Strip, pledged retaliation following the Israeli operation. The US, EU, Japan and several other nations have named Hamas a terrorist organization.

A similar Israeli military operation occurred last month in the nearby city of Jenin.

The IDF said it was targeting PIJ militants in the Jenin refugee camp, and that it thwarted an imminent terrorist attack. That raid also left 10 Palestinians dead. 

Israel ramping up security operations after attacks, drawing criticism

The Israeli far-right governing coalition, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made security an utmost priority, particularly after recent Palestinian attacks.

Israel prepares punitive measures after Jerusalem attacks

For example, a Palestinian driver earlier this month rammed his vehicle into an East Jerusalem bus stop, killing two people. A Palestinian gunman also opened fire at a synagogue last month, killing seven people. Israeli authorities made dozens of arrests after the shooting and boosted their presence in the West Bank. 

Palestinian officials in the West Bank have said Israel is entrenching its occupation in the West Bank by carrying out security raids.

Israel's plans to expand settlements in the West Bank in response to recent attacks have also triggered condemnation not only from Palestinian officials but also from the US and Germany.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that "each new settlement is another roadblock on the path to peace."

"Shrinking horizon of hope" for Palestinians: US Secretary of State Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month visited Israel and the West Bank, where he urged de-escalation and condemned recent Palestinian attacks. He also reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

wd/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)