Israeli army kills 2 Palestinians in West Bank clash

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – Israeli forces killed two Palestinians, including a man claimed by an armed group as a member, in a clash that erupted early Monday when troops entered a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, said Palestinian health officials.

The two men were killed in the village of Kafr Dan near the northern city of Jenin. The Israeli army said it entered Kafr Dan on Sunday evening to demolish the homes of two Palestinian gunmen who killed an Israeli soldier in a September firefight. The military said troops came under heavy fire and returned fire to the shooters.

It is the latest bloodshed in the region that has seen Israeli-Palestinian tensions soar for months. On Monday, Israeli rights group B’Tselem said 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2004, a period of intense violence during a Palestinian uprising.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified those killed as 21-year-old Samer Houshiyeh and 25-year-old Fouad Abed. Houshiyeh was shot several times in the chest, according to Samer Attiyeh, director of Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin. Attiyeh initially said Abed was 17, but the ministry later gave his age as 25.

An armed group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, later claimed Houshiyeh as a member. The group, an offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, posted an older photo in which Houshiyeh posed with guns. Video on social media showed his body wrapped in the armed group’s flag as his mother and other mourners bid farewell.

It was not immediately clear whether the second Palestinian killed was also affiliated with a militant group.

Israel says it is demolishing militants’ homes to deter would-be attackers. Critics say the tactic amounts to collective punishment.

The Israeli army has been carrying out near-daily raids on Palestinian towns since a series of Palestinian attacks on Israelis that left 19 dead last spring.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and East Jerusalem last year, according to B’Tselem figures, making 2022 the deadliest since 2004, when 197 Palestinians were killed. A new wave of attacks killed at least nine more Israelis in the fall. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed were militants. But young stone throwers protesting the incursions and others not involved in the clashes were also killed.

Hamoked, an Israeli rights group, said Israel was holding 866 Palestinians in administrative detention, a form of imprisonment without trial. That figure is up from around 500 a year ago, the organization said, the highest since 2003, at the height of the last Palestinian uprising. He said a total of 4,658 Palestinians are imprisoned by Israel on security-related charges.

Israel says the raids are intended to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see them as a further reinforcement of Israel’s 55-year occupation of the West Bank.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East War and the Palestinians are seeking these territories for a future state.

The Huffington Gt

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