Child among five Palestinians martyred by Israeli forces during 24 hours
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Five Palestinians, including a child, were martyred on Thursday as Israeli forces launched fresh raids into the West Bank flashpoint district of Jenin, a week after a gunman from the area went on a deadly shooting spree in Tel Aviv.
Israel has poured additional forces into the West Bank and is reinforcing its wall and fence barrier with the occupied territory after four deadly attacks in the Jewish state that have claimed 14 lives, most of them civilians, in the past three weeks.
A total of 21 Palestinians have been killed in the latest wave of violence since March 22.
In a clash near Jenin on Thursday morning "two youths martyred of injuries sustained in an Israeli attack," the Palestinian health ministry said.
Hours later, the ministry announced the death of a 45-year-old Palestinian father of six, who had been "critically wounded by Israeli bullets" the previous day in Beita, south of Nablus. Local sources named the man as Fawaz Hamayel.
Palestinian security sources named the two men martyred Thursday as Mustafa Abu Al-Rub and Chas Kamamji – a brother of Islamic Jihad member Ayham Kamamji, who was among six prisoners who escaped Israel's high-security Gilboa prison through a tunnel in September before being recaptured.
- 'Intensity will increase' -
A river of mourners flowed through the streets of Silwad, north of Ramallah, for the funeral of Amer Elyan, 20, martyred Wednesday with a bullet to the chest by Israeli forces who said he threw a firebomb at troops during an arrest raid.
Some mourners waved the green flags of the Islamist movement Hamas and masked men carried guns as Elyan's body, draped in a Palestinian flag and a wreath, was borne by the crowd.
Elyan's father Mohammad told AFP that "my son's only wish was to become a martyr, just like his whole generation, because they see no future nor a political horizon for them".
Israeli forces have arrested more than 200 Palestinians since early April, about half of them in the past six days, said the Palestinian Prisoner's Club, a group which supports those incarcerated.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Wednesday charged that Israeli soldiers in the operations "murder for the sake of murder ... without the slightest regard for international law". The West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem declared general strikes Thursday in protest at the ongoing Israeli military operations.
The rise in violence comes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and before the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter.
Last year during Ramadan, tensions in Jerusalem flared into 11 days of war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.