Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank and unrest in the Gaza Strip have resulted in the deaths of six Palestinians, according to Palestinian health officials on Wednesday. This marks an escalation in the ongoing wave of violence that has engulfed the region for over a year.
Initially, the death toll from the recent flare-up was reported as four on Tuesday. However, on Wednesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry revised the figure, stating that an Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank led to the deaths of four individuals and left around 30 others wounded. Additionally, a separate raid in another refugee camp resulted in the death of another Palestinian. A sixth Palestinian lost their life in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli fire during the unrest.
The violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians over the past year and a half have reached levels not seen in the West Bank for nearly two decades. Israel has increased its military operations in Palestinian territories, and there has been a rise in Palestinian attacks against Israelis. Tensions also appear to be spreading to Gaza.
The Israeli military reported on Wednesday that troops opened fire at a Palestinian who was throwing explosives at them during an overnight arrest operation in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp, near the Palestinian city of Jericho. This camp has become a focal point of Israeli raids.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 19-year-old Dhargham al-Akhras was killed during the operation in the Aqabat Jabr camp.
The violence in the Jenin camp earlier in the day was another episode in the stronghold of Palestinian militants, where the Israeli military frequently conducts deadly raids. In July, Israel launched its most extensive operation in the West Bank in almost two decades, resulting in widespread destruction in the camp.
The Israeli military stated that during the operation, they conducted a rare strike using a suicide drone and engaged in a firefight with gunmen in Jenin. As they were leaving the camp, an explosive device detonated beneath an army truck while gunmen fired upon them, causing damage to the vehicle. No soldiers were injured.
Videos circulated on social media showed medics transporting the wounded to a hospital, with other footage capturing explosions and gunfire resonating in the camp. As Israeli soldiers withdrew, a group of young men chanted, “Oh, you who ask, who are we? We are the Jenin Brigade.”
Following the Israeli military’s departure from the Jenin camp, numerous gunmen and residents took to the streets to protest against the Palestinian Authority and its perceived failure to protect them, as per footage shared by residents.
Israel asserts that these raids are aimed at dismantling militant networks and preventing future attacks.
Since the beginning of the year, around 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, according to data compiled by The Associated Press. Israel contends that the majority of those killed were militants, but there have also been casualties among youths protesting the incursions and individuals not involved in the confrontations.
Since the start of 2023, at least 31 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
In the Gaza violence, health officials reported that the Israeli military killed a 25-year-old Palestinian along the volatile frontier with Israel, as young protesters engaged in violent demonstrations at a separation fence.
The unrest over the past week has heightened tensions and prompted Israel to restrict entry for thousands of Palestinian laborers from the impoverished enclave.
Over the last week, dozens of Palestinians—burning tires and launching explosive devices at Israeli soldiers—have moved towards the fence that separates Israel from Gaza. The region has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, which Israel argues is necessary to prevent the Hamas militant group from acquiring weapons.
Hamas contends that the youth have organized the protests in response to Israeli provocations.
In the 1967 Middle East war, Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians seek these territories for their envisioned independent state.