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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Israel says 10 gunmen have been killed in fighting in West Bank

Israeli soldiers work on their tanks in a army camp near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on April 8, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)  (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Maher Abukhater, Jan-Uwe Ronneburger and Cindy Riechau German Press Agency

JERUSALEM – The Israeli army and border police have reportedly killed at least 10 gunmen in a major military operation in the West Bank.

Eight Israeli soldiers and a member of the undercover Yamas special unit of the Magav border police were also injured in fighting in the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm, an army spokesman said on Saturday.

The Israeli forces were shot at and attacked with explosive devices, he said.

Palestinian media and the Palestinian Ministry of Health had previously reported two dead and seven injured in the military operation that began the previous day.

However, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported on Saturday that there was hardly any information from the sealed-off city, where the internet had also been switched off.

The information from both sides could not initially be independently verified.

According to the army, a total of eight wanted suspects were detained, explosive devices were defused and numerous buildings were searched. In addition, an explosives workshop was destroyed and numerous weapons were confiscated, including pistols and M16 assault rifles, it said.

The local commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, Mohammed Jaber, was among those killed, according to Palestinian media reports, which were not officially confirmed at first.

Palestinian media also reported that the Israeli army had caused severe damage to roads, water and power lines and destroyed numerous homes during its operation.

Later, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that a 50-year-old Palestinian ambulance driver was shot dead in confrontations between settlers and Palestinians on Saturday evening.

He was driving injured people out of a village that had previously been invaded by settlers, it said. Clashes broke out between the settlers and Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, two Palestinians were also injured by gunfire. It was initially unclear who exactly killed the driver of the ambulance.

Citing a paramedic, WAFA reported that armed settlers and Israeli soldiers had fired shots. The army did not initially comment on the incident when asked.

Citing army sources, Israeli media reported that the military was investigating whether the bullet fired at the ambulance was fired by civilians or the security forces.

The various statements could not initially be verified.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there has been an increase in violence by settlers against Palestinian residents of the West Bank and clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians.

The EU imposed sanctions for the first time on Friday due to the violence by radical Israeli settlers against Palestinians. At the same time, the U.S. government responded to the growing tensions in the West Bank with further punitive measures against radical settlers.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The number of Israeli settlers in the area, which lies between Israel’s heartland and Jordan, has now risen to around half a million. Including East Jerusalem, there are 700,000 settlers living in the midst of around 3 million Palestinians. They claim the territories as part of their own state.

In 2016, the U.N. Security Council labelled these Israeli settlements a violation of international law and called on Israel to stop all settlement activities.

Almost 450 Palestinians have died in the West Bank since the Oct. 7 attacks mounted by the Palestinian militant organization Hamas from the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, most of them dying in IDF operations and others in attacks mounted on Israelis.

In the Gaza Strip, the IDF bombed rocket launch ramps in Beit Hanoun in the north following a rocket attack directed towards Sderot across the border in Israel on Friday.

Dozens of airstrikes were aimed at targets in the Gaza Strip, the IDF reported.

And in the north of Israel along the border with Lebanon, air-raid sirens sounded, indicating a possible attack by the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah militia.