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Seven Palestinians, two Israelis killed in West Bank

Nine people were killed Sunday in the occupied West Bank, including seven Palestinians who were targeted in an air strike by the Israeli army, sources on both sides said. Violence in the West Bank since the start of Israel’s war with Gaza-based Hamas militants has surged to levels unseen in nearly two decades. Israeli forces carry out regular raids in the occupied territory, especially in the militant stronghold of Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp. “An Israeli occupation bombardment on a group of citizens killed seven people in Jenin,” said the Palestinian Authority-run Ministry of Health, which is based in Ramallah. The army, however, said “six terrorists were killed when an aircraft struck a terrorist who hurled explosive devices” at troops in an operation in Jenin refugee camp. Police said an Israeli police officer was killed during an operation at the refugee camp. “She (officer) was in an operational vehicle that was hit by an explosive device,” the force said, adding three other officers were also wounded. In another incident north of Ramallah, an Israeli civilian was shot dead, the army said. The civilian was “killed adjacent to the British police junction” north of Ramallah, the army said, adding police were searching for the attacker. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported early Sunday that a major deployment of Israeli forces was under way in Jenin. It said the six Palestinians, including four brothers, were killed in an “Israeli drone strike” in Jenin, and a seventh died later from wounds. – Blood, splintered glass – Suleiman Moussa, a resident of Jenin, said the “air strike” followed sounds of gunfire. “We came here and saw people thrown to the ground, some with heads cut off, some body parts. It was an unbelievable scene and we didn’t know what to do,” Moussa told AFP. “Later people called the ambulance which came and took six martyrs and another person in a critical situation.” AFP footage from the strike showed residents inspecting patches of blood and splintered glass on a pavement near the camp hours after the strike. Residents also attended the funeral of the four brothers. Israeli army raids on the Jenin area often trigger gun battles between troops and Palestinian militants. The army says it is targeting “terrorists” in its raids, but the Palestinian health ministry says many civilians are among the dead. Israel has occupied the West Bank since a war with Arab states in 1967. About three million Palestinians live in the occupied West Bank, which is also populated by 490,000 Israelis living in settlements deemed illegal under international law but recognised by Israel. Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7 at least 328 people in the West Bank have been killed by either soldiers or Israeli settlers, according to the Palestinian health ministry. More than 520 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank in 2023, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Palestinian militant attacks in Israel and the West Bank, meanwhile, have killed at least 41 people in 2023, according to the Shin Bet security agency. The October 7 Hamas attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures. In response, Israel is carrying out a relentless bombardment and ground invasion that have killed at least 22,835 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory.

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