QALANDIA: Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in two separate incidents in West Bank on Thursday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as the army reported opening fire on fleeing suspects and troops being pelted with rocks during raids.
The uptick in West Bank violence continued the trend of 2022, which was the deadliest since UN records began in 2005.
Fears of a military escalation in the territory have been sparked by the inauguration in late December of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Palestinian health ministry said that Habib Kamil, 25, and Abdulhadi Nazal, 18, were killed by live Israeli bullets in the town of Qabatiya near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
The Israeli army said that during a raid to arrest a suspect in Qabatiya, “the wanted suspect and an additional suspect fled the scene.”
“The forces fired toward them. The wanted suspect was apprehended and a hit on the additional suspect was identified,” the army said in a statement.
In an ensuing gunfight and clashes, Israeli soldiers shot two other Palestinians, the statement said.
Earlier in the day, the Palestinian health ministry announced that 41-year-old Samir Aouni Harbi Aslan was killed “by a bullet of the Israeli occupation army” in Qalandia refugee camp, near Ramallah.
The Israeli military said troops had fired on people who “hurled rocks and blocks from the rooftops aiming at soldiers operating beneath”.
Eighteen people were arrested in raids overnight Wednesday-Thursday across the West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club advocacy group said.
Azzam Abdel Qader, who witnessed the raid, said Aslan was shot on the balcony of his home as his son was being detained.
“He shouted at the soldiers and said to his son: ‘Don’t be afraid’,” Qader told AFP.
“After that, stones were being thrown at the occupation soldiers in the neighbourhood, so the soldiers started shooting randomly.”
Mourners gathered in Qalandia for the funeral of Aslan, the third Palestinian killed in the West Bank in 24 hours.
The Qabatia deaths bring the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since the start of the year to nine.