The Israeli army has killed three Palestinian men during a large-scale raid on the Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian health ministry identified the three, killed on Monday morning, as Muhammad Abu Zaytoun, 32, Fathi Abu Rizk, 30, and Abdullah Abu Hamdan, 24.
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At least seven other Palestinians were injured, including four with live ammunition, and dozens of others suffered tear gas inhalation, according to the ministry.
Hundreds of Palestinians turned out for the funeral procession on Monday afternoon for the three men killed.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority (PA) presidency, described Monday’s raid as a “massacre”.
“The continuous aggression on the city of Nablus, its villages and refugee camps by the occupation forces and extremist settlers, is a major war crime and collective punishment that must end immediately,” he said in a statement.
“The US administration’s silence on the occupation’s crimes encourages it to persist in its aggression,” continued Abu Rudeineh, warning that such attacks “will drag the region towards explosion.”
Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and special forces participated in the raid that began at about 1am (22:00 GMT on Sunday) and continued until 5am (02:00 GMT).
Israeli forces blockaded the camp’s entrances with bulldozers and demolished some homes. They also damaged some units, according to residents, who also alleged the use of anti-tank grenades.
Reporting from the Balata refugee camp, Al Jazeera’s Givara Budeiri said at least seven homes inside the camp were demolished or damaged.
“The families here are remembering the 2002 invasion of Nablus. They felt the bullets had penetrated everything tonight,” said Budeiri, adding that ambulance crews were also targeted as they attempted to reach the wounded.
A Palestinian medic filmed the moment Israeli soldiers was aiming at him as his team attempted to reach victims of a raid at Balata Refugee Camp ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/n9CHGqvtgw
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 22, 2023
The Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kaila, said “Israeli occupation forces obstructed the work of paramedics and ambulances…while they were carrying out their humanitarian duty to transport the injured and provide them with treatment.”
The Israeli army said in a statement it arrested three Palestinian men “suspected of involvement” in armed activity and confiscated weapons, but did not comment on the killings. It also said it found an “explosives laboratory” in one of the apartments in the camp.
Monday’s raid took place after a car-ramming attack near Nablus on Sunday in which an Israeli soldier was injured.
The Balata refugee camp is the largest in terms of population in the occupied West Bank, where some 30,000 Palestinians live in a high population density area of about 60 acres (24 hectares).
Israeli occupation soldiers shot and killed three Palestinians during a large-scale assault on Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank city of Nablus early this morning and injured six others, one of them seriously.
— Wafa News Agency – English (@WAFANewsEnglish) May 22, 2023
Israeli forces also raided the Jenin refugee camp north of Nablus on Monday and arrested at least three Palestinian men.
Israel has been conducting near-daily raids and killings of Palestinians in the West Bank since June 2021 in an attempt to crack down on a phenomenon of growing armed resistance.
In 2022, Israeli forces killed more than 170 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in what was described as the deadliest year for Palestinians living in those areas since 2006.
Since the start of 2023, Israeli forces have killed at least 156 Palestinians, including 26 children. The death toll includes 36 Palestinians killed by the Israeli army during a four-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip between May 9 and 13.