TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians, including a 16-year-old, in a raid in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said. The Israeli military said troops came under fire and shot back.
Israel has been carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank since last year in response to a spate of Palestinian attacks, what has fueled tensions in the region and sent the death toll soaring. The violence comes amid a spike in attacks on Palestinians by radical Jewish settlers, continued settlement expansion and as Israel is led by a government composed of ultranationalist settlement supporters.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified those killed as Qusay al-Walaji, 16, and Mohammed Nujoom, 25. The statement added that the raid took place in the Jericho area, which has seen heavy fighting over the last 16 months.
The Israeli military said in its statement that Palestinians opened fire at forces operating in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho and the forces fired back.
Israeli-Palestinian violence in the West Bank has surged to levels unseen in nearly two decades, with more than 170 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since the start of 2023, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the raids and others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.
At least 27 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that time.
Israel says the raids are essential to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the violence as a natural response to 56 years of occupation, including stepped-up settlement construction by Israel’s government and increased violence by Jewish settlers.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.