3 Palestinians killed in Israeli raid in occupied West Bank

Three others were arrested there, the army said


Three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli army raid in a West Bank refugee camp early on Monday, Palestinian health officials said, while the Biden administration sharply condemned Israel’s latest act of settlement expansion.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the three men were killed during a raid in Balata, a refugee camp near the city of Nablus. Six people were wounded, including one who was in critical condition, the ministry said.

The army later confirmed soldiers had raided Balata; it said troops came under fire and killed three Palestinians. Three others were arrested there, the army said. Israel has stepped up raids over the past year in response to a spate of Palestinian attacks and said Monday’s operations netted weapons and an explosives manufacturing operation in a home, which it detonated.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration issued a sharply worded statement on Sunday criticising Israel for moving to reestablish settlers at the formerly evacuated outpost of Homesh in northern West Bank.

In March, the Israeli government repealed a 2005 act that dismantled four West Bank settlements. Over the weekend, the top Israeli army general in the West Bank signed an order attaching Homesh to a local settler regional council  a move paving the way for reconstruction of the outpost.

The United States was deeply troubled by what US State Department spokesman Mathew Miller said was Israel’s illegal policy on the outpost in the occupied territory.

Miller also expressed Washington’s concerns about ultranationalist National Security Minister Itmar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. The contested site is also home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity, Miller said in the statement.

Under longstanding arrangements, Jews are permitted to visit the site, but not to pray there. But in recent years, a growing number of Jewish visitors have begun to quietly pray, raising fears among Palestinians that Israel is plotting to divide or take over the site. Ben-Gvir has long called for increased Jewish access.

Ben-Gvir visited the hilltop compound earlier on Sunday, declaring that we are in charge, while the Israeli Cabinet held a rare meeting in Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate its control of the area. Ben-Gvir’s visit drew condemnations from the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbour, Jordan.

A former West Bank settler leader and far-right activist who years ago was convicted of incitement and supporting a Jewish terror group, Ben-Gvir now serves as Israel’s national security minister, overseeing the country’s police force.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group with connections to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, identified the men killed in Balata as its members. It gave their names as Fathi Jihad Rizk, 30, Abdullah Yousef Abu Hamdan, 24, and Muhammad Bilal Zaytoun, 32.

In a separate overnight raid in the northern town of Jenin, the army said two Palestinians were shot and three were arrested when the Israeli forces came under attack. Israeli forces also raided five other locations overnight and two refugee camps  Ayola and Aqabat.

More than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the spring of 2022. About 50 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were militants, but stone throwing youths protesting the incursions and people not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

Last week, Israelis marked Jerusalem Day, which celebrates Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Mideast war.

Flag-waving nationalists marched through the main Palestinian thoroughfare in Jerusalem’s Old City, some singing racist anti-Arab chants, while hundreds of Jews visited the sensitive hilltop shrine.

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About Joel Cholo Brooks 14504 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.
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