With a series of deadly terror attacks and near-nightly clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinian gunmen as the army has ramped up operations in the West Bank, 2022 is shaping up to be the deadliest year for both Israelis and Palestinians in years.
According to data from the Shin Bet security agency, 27 Israeli civilians and foreigners were killed in terror attacks committed by Palestinian or Arab Israeli terrorists in Israel or the West Bank so far this year.
Another three soldiers were killed in attacks directed against troops, and one police commando was killed during clashes with Palestinian gunmen in a West Bank operation.
In 2015, 29 people were killed in Palestinian attacks during a string of knifing, shooting, and ramming incidents, most of them civilians. In 2014, 93 people were killed, mostly soldiers amid a war in the Gaza Strip.
The majority of this year’s fatalities occurred in attacks in the Tel Aviv area and nearby cities (12) and in the West Bank (9).
In addition, four people were killed in an attack in the southern city of Beersheba, four were killed in separate attacks in Jerusalem, and two were killed in an attack in the northern city of Hadera.
According to Shin Bet data, more than 129 people have been wounded in attacks this year.
Many of the attackers hailed from the Jenin and Nablus areas in the northern West Bank, where the Israel Defense Forces has focused much of its counterterrorism efforts.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry has so far reported 167 Palestinian deaths as a result of Israeli gunfire in the West Bank this year, making it the deadliest since 2006, when 220 Palestinians were reported killed in the West Bank
The Israel Defense Forces, which has put this year’s number slightly lower at 151, says the overwhelming majority of those killed were carrying out attacks or had clashed with security forces.
Security officials say the high Palestinian death toll is largely tied to violent clashes and the string of terror attacks, in which many of the assailants were also killed.
In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.
The IDF has recorded around 300 shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank this year, compared to just 91 last year. Many of those shootings occurred almost immediately as troops entered Palestinian cities to arrest suspects allegedly involved in terror activities.
Several bystanders have been killed amid the gun battles too, such as Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was accidentally shot dead by an Israeli soldier during a raid in Jenin in May.
On Sunday night, a 16-year-old girl, Jana Zakarna, was apparently shot dead by an Israeli soldier as she was on a rooftop in Jenin, amid an armed clash between troops and Palestinian gunmen.
In the cases of Abu Akleh, Zakarna, and Omar Assad — a Palestinian who had a heart attack and died after being arrested and later abandoned by troops — Israeli officials and even the army have apologized for their deaths.
But there have also been Palestinians killed in murkier circumstances, such as Ammar Shafiq Abu Afifa, an unarmed 19-year-old student who was shot dead after running away from troops who sought to question him. The IDF did not say he sought to commit an attack or was otherwise wanted for questioning.
There have also been several killings under disputed circumstances this year, with the IDF initially saying a suspect sought to commit an attack, and Palestinian eyewitnesses disputing and claiming otherwise.
In some of the cases, the army has dropped the initial claims and quietly released suspects related to alleged attempted attacks, such as in the death of 15-year-old Fulla Maslama in November.
The teenager was shot dead while in a car driven by a Palestinian man, Annes Hassuna. The military said at the time that the car Maslama was in had accelerated toward troops. But the driver, wounded by the IDF’s gunfire, was released from custody a few days later.
Israeli soldiers are rarely convicted for shootings that take place under disputed circumstances.
The IDF’s ongoing operation, meanwhile, has netted more than 2,500 arrests, and foiled around 500 potential terror attacks, military officials have said.