Four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in West Bank, health ministry says

Four Palestinians have been killed and nearly 20 others injured by Israeli forces operating in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry has said.

The ministry said in a brief statement that three were killed and 19 wounded, three seriously, by Israeli fire during a raid early on Tuesday in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

It later reported that another Palestinian had been killed by Israeli fire, this time in Ramallah, home to the headquarters of Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the central West Bank.

One of the men who died was unarmed, according to Palestinian health and security officials.

The Israeli army confirmed in a joint statement with police and intelligence agencies that they had conducted a large-scale night operation in Nablus, raiding a “hideout apartment … that was used as a headquarters and explosives manufacturing site”.

“The site was used by the main operatives of the ‘Lion’s Den’ terrorist group,” the statement said, referring to a new group of young Palestinian fighters who have carried out anti-Israeli operations in Nablus in recent weeks.

“During the activity, multiple armed suspects were hit and Palestinian reports indicate that were multiple injuries.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Abbas, said Abbas’s office had asked the US for its help in ending the Israeli campaign. “All of this will have dangerous and destructive consequences,” Abu Rudeineh said on Palestine TV.

Nablus, a large city in the northern West Bank has been a flashpoint for violence since Israel began a crackdown in the West Bank in March in response to a series of attacks by Palestinians in Israel.

In recent weeks, a group of young Palestinian fighters – some affiliated with mainstream groups such as Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – have carried out anti-Israeli operations from there.

The new group, called Areen al-Ossoud – or The Lion’s Den – claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on an Israeli soldier two weeks ago in the occupied West Bank.

Leader Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, nicknamed The Lion of Nablus, was known for galvanising the youth before he was shot dead by Israeli forces in August. He has since become a folk hero to Palestinians on social media.

In the aftermath, the Israeli army tightened its grip on Nablus, setting up controls to identify people leaving the city and constantly scanning the skies above with observation drones.

On Saturday night, a Lions’ Den fighter, Tamer al-Kilani, was killed in the Old City of Nablus by an explosion attributed by the group and the Israeli press to a bomb remotely activated by the Israeli army.

The army did not comment on these claims.

After the operation early Tuesday, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a statement that its “fighters were involved in violent clashes” with Israeli forces in Nablus and threatened Israel with reprisals “against these crimes” there.

The months-long Israeli military campaign in the north of the West Bank had seen near-nightly confrontations between Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers and local militias in the cities of Jenin and Nablus. The operation, codenamed Breakwater, has been one of the biggest outside wartime in decades.

More than 115 Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed this year, the heaviest toll in the West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the UN.

The IDF says Palestinian gun attacks targeting Israeli settlers and the military have risen threefold compared with last year, putting the number at 170 by September.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International called for an international criminal court (ICC) probe into possible war crimes committed in August by both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during deadly fighting in Gaza.

Thirty-one civilians were among the 49 Palestinians killed in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip during the three-day conflict, the global rights group said in a new report.

The London-based organisation pressed the ICC to “urgently investigate any apparent war crimes committed during the August 2022 Israeli offensive” in the Palestinian enclave.

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