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Israeli forces martyr six more Palestinians in West Bank raid

Israeli forces martyr six more Palestinians in West Bank raid
February 6, 2023 Web Desk

JERICHO, Palestine (AFP) - The Israel forces martyred six Palestinians in a raid in the occupied West Bank, after a days-long search for suspects in a shooting near Jericho.

Hamas Islamists confirmed its fighters were among the martyrs, saying in a statement the Gaza-based group was mourning members of its military wing martyred 'in an armed clash with the Zionist occupation'.

The early morning Israeli raid came amid a spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence and after days of what Jericho authorities have described as a 'siege' on the city since the shooting attack late last month.

Both Israelis and Palestinians have used the remains of people killed in clashes or attacks as bargaining chips throughout the conflict.

The army said in a statement "a number" of armed men were killed in a gunfight during the raid on the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp at the entrance to the city, which lies close to the Jordanian border.

It reported no casualties among the Israeli forces. An AFP photographer saw bullet holes covering the metal door of a wooden hut in the camp, while blood soaked into the floor inside.

Young Palestinians set tyres ablaze to block a road leading into Jericho, while shops and schools were shut as residents observed a general strike after the raid.

Jericho 'siege'

The Palestinian Health Ministry said one person remained in a critical condition after being shot in the head by Israeli forces.

The ministry identified the six men killed and said they were aged between 21 and 28.

Violence is rare in Jericho, a popular destination for tourists who are drawn to the ancient city's religious and cultural sites.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called Monday's deadly raid a "major crime" and a "flagrant violation of international law". Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh described those killed as "heroes" who "fought until they were martyred defending their land and their holy sites".

"The successive killings by the enemy in the West Bank will be disastrous for them," he said in a statement.

Since the start of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 41 Palestinian adults and children -- including attackers, militants and civilians.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. Last year was the deadliest year in the West Bank since the United Nations started tracking casualties in the territory in 2005. There were 235 fatalities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2022, with nearly 90 percent of the deaths on the Palestinian side, according to AFP figures.