Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in Jenin in the latest burst of violence in the occupied West Bank
Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in Jenin on Tuesday in the latest burst of violence in the occupied West Bank © Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli forces killed at least six Palestinians during a gun battle at the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said on Tuesday.

The incursion is the latest in a string of deadly raids by Israeli forces in the West Bank and comes amid an escalation in violence that has intensified fears that Israeli-Palestinian tensions could erupt into a broader conflict.

The Palestinian health ministry said more than two dozen people were injured during the raid, which targeted a gunman suspected of shooting dead two Jewish settlers in Huwara last month.

In the wake of the shooting, about 400 Jewish settlers torched buildings in Huwara and surrounding villages during a 17-hour rampage that a senior Israeli official described as a “pogrom”. Settlers injured another Palestinian in Huwara on Monday night.

The Israeli military said the suspect in the Huwara shooting was among those killed in Jenin on Tuesday and that two of his sons, who were suspected of helping him prepare the attack, had been arrested separately in Nablus. Israeli police said two Israeli security personnel were injured in Jenin.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) condemned the raid and accused Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline new government — which took office in December, with ultranationalists in key security posts pledging to take a tougher stance against the Palestinians — of a “dangerous escalation”.

“[This] threatens to inflame the situation and destroy all efforts aimed at restoring stability,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a PA spokesman.

A gunman fires from a window during the Jenin raid
A gunman fires from a window during the Jenin raid © Raneen Sawafta/Reuters

The Jenin raid is the latest incident in what has been one of the bloodiest periods for years in the West Bank, which makes up the bulk of the Palestinian territories but has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Since the start of the year, Israeli forces have killed more than 65 Palestinians, including militants and civilians, in raids in the territory, while Palestinians have killed 13 Israelis and one Ukrainian.

Diplomats and security officials have warned there is a growing risk of another intifada, akin to the Palestinian uprisings of the 1980s and 2000s. Officials are particularly concerned about the potential for an escalation when Muslim and Jewish religious festivals coincide next month.

CIA chief Bill Burns, a senior US diplomat during the second intifada in the early 2000s, warned last month that “what we’re seeing today has a very unhappy resemblance to some of those realities that we saw then too”.

During a meeting with Israeli officials on Monday, US secretary of state Antony Blinken called on both sides to de-escalate. US defence secretary Lloyd Austin is also expected to raise the topic when he visits Israel this week.

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