Israeli soldiers have shot dead two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the latest violence that has escalated tensions in the region.
The military said it conducted a raid on Saturday to apprehend individuals suspected of carrying out a shooting attack against Israelis earlier this week.
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“Two martyrs, shot by the occupation [Israeli forces], arrived at Thabet Thabet government hospital,” after the raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp near the city of Tulkarem, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement.
Both men were 22 years old and died of bullet wounds to their chest, neck and abdomen, it added.
The Israeli army said the men were involved in a “shooting attack” in Avnei Heftz on Tuesday that wounded an Israeli civilian. Avnei Heftz is a settlement in the occupied West Bank deemed illegal under international law.
“The two gunmen were shot and killed after attempting to flee the scene,” an army statement said, adding two others were arrested. “Two M-16 rifles, military vests and [ammunition] magazines” were confiscated during the raid, it said.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and has a strong presence in the occupied West Bank, said the men were members of one of the group’s branches. The statement said the men had engaged in armed struggle against the Israeli military.
Videos circulating on social media purportedly showed the lifeless bodies of the two Palestinians lying on a tin roof as what appear to be Israeli forces searched them. At one point, one of the soldiers tried to flip one body as he partially took off the dead man’s jeans.
Palestinian media, citing witnesses, said soldiers left after ensuring the two were dead.
Israel has been staging near-nightly raids into occupied West Bank villages, towns and cities for more than a year.
Saturday’s deaths raised to 111 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2023. About 50 people have been killed in attacks against Israelis.
The raid followed an exchange of cross-border attacks between Israel and Gaza earlier in the week after intensifying violence that has seen repeated Israeli incursions in the occupied West Bank, as well as attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.
Palestinians see the violent incursions as further entrenchment of Israel’s 56-year, open-ended occupation of lands they seek for a future independent state.
Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan died on Tuesday on the 87th day of a hunger strike against his repeated arbitrary detention by Israel.
The death of Adnan, who was arrested on March 5 and was awaiting military trial, caused widespread anger and protests in the occupied West Bank, and led to rocket attacks on Israel by armed groups in the besieged Gaza Strip.