Israeli forces shot dead six Palestinians Friday in a raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, as the army confirmed it conducted a “counter-terrorism” operation.
The ministry said those who lost their lives included a 14-year-old boy and an 18-year-old. It said they had been killed “by bullets from the occupation (Israel) in the al-Fara refugee camp” near Tubas.
The Palestinian Red Crescent also reported having treated six people wounded by gunfire, one of them critically.
“Clashes escalated with the (Israeli) forces who stormed the camp amid intense fire and... explosions,” said the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
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The Israeli army said in a statement that during a joint military and Shin Bet counterterrorism operation, “two wanted suspects were apprehended”, listing both as prominent “terrorists” who had previously been imprisoned.
“During exchanges of fire, a number of terrorists were killed,” it added. “Two M-16 rifles were found on the terrorists who were killed.”
Residents of the camp gathered for funeral processions on Friday morning, carrying the bodies of those killed in the raid through the streets.
The spot where one of them was shot had been turned into a makeshift memorial, with a pool of blood surrounded by stones and a Palestinian flag draped nearby.
Violence has flared in the territory since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said four Palestinians, two of them teenagers, were killed in multiple Israeli operations around the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Spike in violence
The Palestinian Authority says Israeli fire and settler attacks in the West Bank have killed at least 263 Palestinians since the Israel-Hamas war began.
This exceeds the entire death toll of 235, most of them Palestinians, killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last year.
Last month, 14 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin, according to the Ramallah-based Palestinian health ministry.
It was the highest West Bank death toll from a single raid since 2005, according to United Nations records.
Israel’s military said at the time that soldiers and other security forces had killed “several terrorists” with a drone strike and others in gunfights, seizing weapons and destroying a “tunnel shaft containing ready-to-use explosive devices.”
Israeli officials and military have regularly charged that the Jenin refugee camp in the city had turned into a “terrorist hub” where armed groups are among tens of thousands of residents.
According to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), since the war erupted Palestinian gunshot victims in the West Bank are now being shot more often in the head and torso rather than the limbs.
Without specifying who was responsible for the shootings, MSF’s international president Christos Christou said on Thursday there had been a “clear shift” in the injuries witnessed by MSF staff.
“When you see that shift in the trauma, you will see more and more dead people,” he said.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas gunmen’s unprecedented attack in southern Israel on October 7, which killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw around 240 taken hostage, Israeli officials say.
In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and has waged war on Gaza that has killed nearly 17,200 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas authorities in the Palestinian territory.