JERUSALEM (AP) — The northern West Financial institution metropolis of Nablus, the Palestinian business middle, resembled a conflict zone on Wednesday, after a daytime Israeli navy raid triggered a firefight that killed not less than 10 Palestinians and wounded greater than 100 others.
It was the newest bloody escalation in a monthslong surge of Israeli raids into the the occupied territory that has led to the deaths of some 200 Palestinians and the arrest of not less than 2,600 others. Final month, a equally lethal raid within the northern West Financial institution metropolis of Jenin triggered a Palestinian assault outdoors a synagogue in Jerusalem and a burst of rocket hearth from Gaza.
This era of heightened violence within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem has prompted comparisons with features of the second intifada, or Palestinian rebellion, within the early 2000s and stoked fears of additional bloodshed below essentially the most right-wing authorities in Israel’s historical past. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new ultranationalist coalition has vowed to take a hard-line stance towards the Palestinians and to entrench Israeli rule over lands they search for a future state.
WHY DID THE ISRAELI ARMY ENTER NABLUS?
A lot of the violence between Israelis and Palestinians for the previous 12 months has targeted on Nablus, together with the close by metropolis of Jenin. The Israeli navy mentioned Wednesday’s daytime raid focused a Nablus-based armed group of younger males generally known as the Lions’ Den, which emerged final 12 months. The group has surged in recognition amongst Palestinians who see them as heroes for preventing Israel’s open-ended occupation of the West Financial institution, now in its 56th 12 months. Though the Lion’s Den portrays itself as impartial of established Palestinian factions, consultants say the group is funded by Islamist militant teams Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israel has blamed the Lion’s Den for a string of shootings aimed toward troops and Israeli settlements previously months, together with one which killed a soldier final October.
WHY DID THE RAID TAKE PLACE DURING THE DAY?
The Israeli military often raids cities within the West Financial institution late at evening in what it says is a tactic meant to scale back the danger of civilian casualties. However on Wednesday, as Israeli navy automobiles rumbled into Nablus’ Previous Metropolis, its warren of houses and retailers teeming with distributors and residents going about their routines below the brilliant sky. Combating between Israeli safety forces and Palestinian gunmen erupted within the stone alleys and the Israeli military even fired missiles at a home after the militants holed up there refused to give up. The Israeli navy mentioned intelligence providers had tracked down three needed members of the Lion’s Den, together with one concerned within the killing of the Israeli soldier final fall, and decided they had been all in the identical home — providing a uncommon window of alternative to focus on them. The military claimed the militants posed a direct menace to Israeli lives, with out offering proof.
WHO WAS KILLED IN THE RAID?
At the least 10 Palestinians had been killed, together with a 16-year-old, a 72-year-old and a 61-year-old. The Lion’s Den claimed six of the useless as its members. Different males had been killed in unclear circumstances that the Israeli military mentioned it was investigating. CCTV footage broadly shared on-line confirmed two younger males, apparently unarmed, shot after sprinting down the road, away from echoing gunfire. One other video circulating on social media, confirmed by witnesses, exhibits the physique of 72-year-old Adnan Baara inert on the bottom of the Previous Metropolis market, his garments coated in mud, beside a cart of bread. “We’re wanting into the whole lot,” mentioned Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesman. To this point this 12 months, not less than 59 Palestinians have been killed within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem, in accordance with a tally by The Related Press. Whereas a lot of these killed in current military raids are militants, stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not concerned in confrontations have additionally been killed.
WHY WAS THE DEATH TOLL SO HIGH?
The Israeli navy mentioned that its troops got here below heavy hearth as they stormed into town. Younger Palestinian males are more and more taking over weapons and organizing into small militant teams. The Israeli military’s escalating efforts to pursue them final 12 months led to bloodshed within the West Financial institution at ranges not seen since 2004. Fed up with the Israeli occupation that constrains their lives and disillusioned by the long-stalemated peace course of and the unpopular Palestinian Authority that workouts restricted management in elements of the West Financial institution, many younger Palestinians have gotten their palms on M-16s, typically smuggled from Israeli military bases or neighboring Jordan. As a substitute of slinging stones at troops getting into their cities, they open hearth. Israeli forces hearth again. Throughout a raid into the Jenin refugee camp final month, 10 Palestinians had been killed, together with a 61-year-old lady peering out on the chaos from her condo window.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The Islamist militant group that guidelines the Gaza Strip, Hamas, issued a veiled menace after the lethal raid, saying its “persistence is operating out.” Senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh mentioned that the Palestinian Authority is “contemplating taking steps in any respect ranges in response,” with out elaborating. Its choices are restricted. After final month’s raid in Jenin, the PA suspended safety coordination with Israel, a transfer it has introduced earlier than with little influence. Though Israel says that its stepped-up arrest raids within the West Financial institution are meant to stop future assaults, Palestinian residents and critics say the operations solely inflame a ceaseless cycle of hatred and bloodshed. The Lion’s Den on Wednesday promised revenge. “The dimensions of the ache that befell Nablus right now,” it warned, “Israel will swallow twice as a lot.”