Palestinian teens killed in accidental blast while handling explosives

Islamic Jihad names fatalities in Balata refugee camp, day after group claimed credit for Jenin roadside bomb that wounded Israeli troops

Illustrative: Masked Palestinians march in Balata, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)
Illustrative: Masked Palestinians march in Balata, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

At least two Palestinian teens were killed late Tuesday when explosives they were handling accidentally blew up near Nablus in the restive northern West Bank, Palestinians.

The Islamic Jihad terror group announced the deaths in a statement of condolence Tuesday, a day after claiming responsibility for a massive roadside bomb that wounded eight soldiers.

The two fatalities were named by the group as 17-year-old Mohammed Hashah and 18-year-old Alaa Hafnawi. A third person was critically wounded in the blast, according to Palestinian media.

The explosion took place in the Balata refugee camp, a cramped warren of buildings and alleys adjacent to Nablus.  Along with Jenin, the city has been the focus of a year-long military offensive focused on stemming terror emanating from the northern West Bank.

On Monday, troops who entered Jenin to arrest a pair of Palestinian suspects were caught in intense clashes, during which they were targeted by explosive devices, including a large roadside bomb that hit a military jeep,  according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The local Islamic Jihad wing, known as the Jenin Battalion, claimed its members had detonated explosive devices near IDF vehicles and then targeted them with gunfire.

The IDF said that “as the security forces exited the city, a military vehicle was hit by an explosive device, damaging the vehicle.”

Footage shared by Palestinian media outlets showed the roadside bomb being detonated next to Israeli army vehicles that were engulfed in smoke. Another clip showed the IDF vehicles coming under fire. Gunfire and explosions could be heard across the city in other clips shared online.

Eight soldiers and Border Police officers were wounded in the roadside blast and gunfire, the IDF and police said. The IDF deployed a helicopter gunship for air cover to evacuate the wounded troops — the first time in decades that air strikes were launched against the West Bank.

Last month, Palestinians in Nablus set off a large makeshift explosive device against an Israeli military convoy that was wrapping up an operation, lightly injuring one soldier.

Footage published online showed the bomb exploding as an army jeep passed a makeshift roadblock set up by Palestinians.

The Nablus-based Lion’s Den terror group claimed responsibility for setting off the bomb, as well as opening fire on troops as they left the city following an arrest raid.

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