Five Palestinian Militants Killed in West Bank Airstrike

Five fighters in the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party were killed early Saturday in a rare Israeli airstrike on the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Red Crescent and Fatah sources said.

Israeli army raids targeting Palestinian militant movements in the West Bank have surged since Hamas launched its October 7 attacks on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said it had killed “a number of terrorists” in an airstrike on the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, home to some 24,000 according to the United Nations which manages it.

The camp is considered a militant hotspot and hosts fighters from Hamas, their ally Islamic Jihad, and the Fatah party which leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said overnight five people were killed and two hurt in a strike, which the camp administration said hit local Fatah headquarters.

Witnesses told AFP the strike appeared to have come from a drone, and Fatah sources confirmed the dead were members of the movement founded by Yasser Arafat.

Those killed in the strike included Muhammad Zahed, the Israeli military said, describing him as “a prominent terrorist in the city of Nablus” and saying he had been involved in a shooting in April in Jerusalem that wounded two Israeli civilians.

It would “continue to operate to eliminate threats and target operatives involved in terror attacks against Israel”, it added in a statement.

Witnesses said Israeli forces entered the camp on foot after the airstrike and destroyed an empty house without causing further casualties.

The airstrike came a day after Israel’s army said it had killed at least seven militants in two separate confrontations in the West Bank.

Five were killed in the Jenin refugee camp, the military said, adding two “assailants” were also killed near Hebron after opening fire on soldiers.

Until now Jenin — considered the main militant hotspot in the West Bank — was the only location in the occupied territory to witness airstrikes since the Israel-Hamas war started.

Israel began its military operation in Gaza in response to the October 7 Hamas attacks that killed at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.

Around 12,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza, according to Hamas authorities.

The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah says since the war started more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, with a spike in army raids and Israeli settler violence.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week urged Israel to act to confront “rising levels of settler extremist violence”.


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