TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians, including a 16-year-old, in a raid in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said. The Israeli military said troops came under fire and shot back.
Israel has been carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank since last year in response to a spate of Palestinian attacks that has fueled tensions in the region and sent the death toll soaring. The violence comes amid a spike in attacks on Palestinians by radical Jewish settlers, settlement expansion and as Israel is led by a government of ultranationalist settlement supporters.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified those killed as Qusay al-Walaji, 16, and Mohammed Nujoom, 25. The statement added that the raid took place in the Jericho area, which has seen heavy fighting over the last 16 months.
The Israeli military said in its statement that Palestinians opened fire at forces operating in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho and the forces fired back.
Later Tuesday, the military said it had detected a failed rocket launch in the northern West Bank and said forces were inspecting the remains of the improvised device. Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, said it was behind the attempted launch, which it said was aimed at a West Bank settlement.
The incident is part of an uptick over recent months of rocket launches from the territory. The rockets have been rudimentary and do not appear to have caused any damage.
The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence in the West Bank has surged to levels unseen in nearly two decades, with more than 170 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since the start of 2023, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the raids and others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.
At least 27 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that time.
Israel says the raids are essential to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the violence as a natural response to 56 years of occupation, including stepped-up settlement construction by Israel’s government and increased violence by Jewish settlers.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.