Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military strike in the northern West Bank on Sunday, according to Palestinian health authorities. This is the latest bloodshed in a wave of violence during a sensitive Jewish holiday season.
The Israeli military said it entered the Nour Shams refugee camp near the town of Tulkarem to destroy what it described as the militants’ command center and bomb site in a building.
It said technical units detonated a series of bombs planted under roads and militants opened fire and hurled explosives while troops responded with live ammunition.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said two men – Asid Abu Ali, 21, and Abdulrahman Abu Daghash, 32 – were killed by Israeli fire. The raid caused severe damage to roads and the suspected building.
Israel has been carrying out increased military raids for the past year and a half, particularly in the northern West Bank, ostensibly to root out Palestinian militants and prevent future attacks.
But Palestinians say the raids cement Israel’s 56-year occupation of the West Bank. The raids showed little sign of slowing the fighting and contributed to the weakening of the Palestinian Authority, the self-governing government that governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
About 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the year, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Israel says most of those killed were militants, but youth protesting the raids and others not involved in the clashes were also killed.
At least 31 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis this year.
Tensions began spilling over into the Gaza Strip last week, where hundreds of Palestinians have held daily demonstrations along the fence separating the territory from Israel.
On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit a militant site for the second time in a few days, after Palestinians sent incendiary balloons onto Israeli farmland and Palestinian protesters threw rocks and explosives at soldiers at the separation fence.
The peak of violence comes during the Jewish New Year holiday. Jews observe Yom Kippur, the holiest day in their calendar, on Sunday evening, followed by the week-long festival of Sukkot later in the month.
For Sukkot, large numbers of Jews are expected to visit Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The site where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located is often a hotspot for violence.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians are seeking these areas for their hoped-for independent state.