Israeli attack on Jericho kills 5 in widening West Bank unrest


JERICHO, West Bank — Israeli security forces killed five Palestinians in the normally peaceful city of Jericho during an early-morning raid Monday, amid the worst violence in the West Bank in nearly two decades.

The Israeli military said two of the dead were caught on CCTV footage preparing to attack a Jewish-run restaurant on a main road outside Jericho last month and were the target of an intensive search. were He described two of the dead as members of the military wing of Hamas.

Hours after the operation, blood remained on the walls of a small shed next to a large villa across the highway from the Uqbat Jabar refugee camp, a densely populated urban slum home to 13,000 people. The youth of the camp burnt tires and erected barricades around the camp in protest.

‘Guns are everywhere’ in Israel, violence on the rise in occupied territories.

Israel captured the bodies of five of the victims, while the IDF reported no Israeli casualties. Soldiers have also set up checkpoints around Jericho, creating hours-long waiting lines while vehicles are searched and IDs are checked.

Israel has launched a series of deadly raids and semi-blockades of Palestinian towns and villages in recent months as part of its “Breaking the Wave” operation, which has been targeted by lone-wolf attackers and newly emerging Palestinian militants. The source is launched in response to violence targeting Israelis. groups, mostly centered in the northern cities of Jenin and Nablus. These groups are usually small, led by youth and organized at the local level outside of Palestinian political parties.

That the militants were from Jericho – versus Nablus or Jenin – is particularly noteworthy. Jericho is a sleepy farm and tourist town known more for its bananas and archeology than for armed groups. It is a bastion of the largely unpopular Palestinian Authority and the home of Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian peace negotiator who died in 2020.

Residents of Uqbat Jabbar condemned Israel’s actions as collective punishment and said the violence would not end until Palestinian land was seized.

“Occupation is a problem,” said Jamal Omar, head of the Uqbat Jabr Refugee Camp Popular Committee. All Palestinians are now afraid of their children.

Analysts have warned that the escalating violence is a fiery combination of a deepening political vacuum among the Palestinians and the return of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads Israel’s most right-wing government ever. is production. Members of Netanyahu’s coalition include settler activists and Jewish nationalists who are calling for the annexation of the West Bank and tougher policies against the Palestinians.

Ayman Daraghama, a former Hamas member of parliament, said the group in Jericho is “close” to but not organized or led by the extremist group.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim said that more violence will be done in response. He said that our people and their resistance will not delay in answering this crime.

The IDF released a photo showing the weapons seized during the raid: five assault rifles, a handgun, a homemade gun and ammunition clips. The widespread presence of illegal weapons is contributing to the lethality of the current wave of violence.

Adel Awadat, 61, a relative of several of the dead, said several others were in critical condition in Israeli custody.

In an attack on the restaurant in January in which the IDF said two people were killed, militants got off just one round before at least one gun jammed.

No one was hurt, but Israeli officials warned that many more could be injured or killed in the attack on January 28, a day after a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem. killed On January 26, an Israeli attack targeting a militant cell in Jenin killed 10 Palestinians, including a woman in her sixties.

Hazem Balusha in Gaza City contributed to this report.

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