Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians during clashes in Jenin on Thursday morning, Palestinian health officials said, as tensions between Israel and the Palestinians spiked.
Israeli commandos entered the Palestinian city in a rare daytime raid to conduct arrests, the army said in a statement. Heavy gunfire was heard in videos posted from the city. Smoke rose from the center of the Jenin Refugee Camp.
The military said gunmen fired at the forces, who “shot back and struck the armed men.” One soldier was lightly wounded and taken to the hospital for treatment, according to the army.
Palestinian health officials said two Palestinians were killed, and that 14 others were struck by Israeli bullets, with three seriously wounded and one in moderate condition.
Palestinian media identified the dead as Sanad Abu Atiyeh, 17, and Yazid al-Sa’adi, 23.
The Israel Defense Forces said three Palestinian gunmen were killed in the incident, and it remained unclear who the third dead Palestinian was. A source familiar with the matter later told The Times of Israel that only two deaths had been confirmed, while another two Palestinians were brain-dead, but still on life support.
The operation was led by infantry forces, including the Duvdevan commando unit, and was part of a larger effort to arrest suspects throughout the West Bank overnight, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The military said the operation involved hundreds of soldiers. In total, 31 suspects were arrested overnight in the West Bank, it said.
The IDF said the arrest operation — dubbed “Breakwater” — targeted individuals suspected of planning future attacks, as well as some thought to be tied to Tuesday’s deadly attack in Bnei Brak, perpetrated by a Palestinian from a village near Jenin. Additionally, a Palestinian from Hebron was detained for alleged affiliation with Islamic State.
— فلسطين الآن (@paltimes2015) March 31, 2022
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) March 31, 2022
Palestinian terror groups responded to the two deaths by threatening Israel with further escalation. Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhaleh called for the group’s armed wing to be put on “high alert.”
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, threatened to meet “escalation with escalation” and warned of a “comprehensive explosion.”
“The continuous crimes of the occupation portend a comprehensive explosion, which will be still more powerful and more painful and miserable [than those that preceded] and which our people will join in every part of our occupied land,” the terror group said in a statement.
Separately Thursday morning, an Israeli man was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack near the West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, medics said.
The 28-year-old was assaulted by another passenger, a Palestinian armed with a screwdriver.
The army confirmed the attack, saying the stabber was shot dead by an armed Israeli civilian who was also on the bus.
The morning violence comes as Israel sees one of the worst terror waves in recent memory, with 11 Israelis killed over the past week and a half.
On Monday night, Diaa Hamarsheh, a 26-year-old Palestinian from Ya’abad, near Jenin, gunned down five Israelis in the central city of Bnei Brak before being shot and killed by police.
Israeli troops raided the shooter’s hometown on Tuesday, arresting several suspected accomplices and Hamarsheh’s brother.
Officials have warned that the Ramadan holy month — which is set to begin over the weekend — could raise tensions still further. Israeli cabinet ministers decided on Wednesday night not to initiate a crackdown over Ramadan so as not to feed an escalation.