Six Palestinians are killed in latest fighting with Israel, at least 3 of them militants

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank and unrest in the Gaza Strip killed six Palestinians, Palestinian health officials said Wednesday, the latest spike in a wave of violence that has roiled the region for more than a year. At least three of those killed were claimed as militant fighters.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said an Israeli raid into the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank killed four people and wounded about 30 others late Tuesday, while a raid in a separate refugee camp killed a fifth Palestinian. A sixth Palestinian was killed by Israeli gunfire during unrest in the Gaza Strip, officials said.

The deadly violence between Israel and the Palestinians over the last year and a half has surged to levels unseen in the West Bank in some two decades. Israel has stepped up its raids on Palestinian areas and Palestinian attacks on Israelis have been mounting. Tensions also appear to be spreading to Gaza.

The Israeli military said Wednesday that troops opened fire toward a Palestinian who was throwing explosives at them while they were on an overnight arrest raid in the refugee camp of Aqabat Jabr. The camp, near the Palestinian city of Jericho, has emerged as one of the focal points of Israel's raids.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces killed 19-year-old Dhargham al-Akhras in the raid.

The bloodshed in the Jenin camp hours earlier was the latest in that stronghold of Palestinian militants where the Israeli military often carries out deadly raids. In July, Israel launched its most intense operation in the West Bank in nearly two decades, leaving widespread destruction in the camp.

The army said that forces carried out a rare strike Tuesday with a suicide drone during the operation and exchanged fire with gunmen in Jenin. While leaving the camp, the army said, an explosive detonated underneath an army truck as gunmen opened fire, damaging the vehicle. No soldiers were injured.

Three of those killed in Jenin were claimed as members of the Hamas militant group or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and were identified as Mahmoud al-Sadi, 23, Mahmoud Ararawi, 24, and Ata Yasser Musa, 29.

Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks.

Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the year, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

At least 31 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis since the beginning of 2023.

In the Gaza violence, health officials said Israeli soldiers killed a 25-year-old Palestinian along the volatile frontier with Israel as youths mounted violent protests at a separation fence. The Israeli military said that troops fired on protesters throwing explosives and that it was investigating the instances in which Palestinians were shot.

Unrest over the past week has escalated tensions and prompted Israel to bar entry to thousands of Palestinian laborers from the impoverished enclave.

Over the last week, dozens of Palestinians — burning tires and hurling explosive devices at Israeli soldiers — have streamed toward the fence separating Israel from Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007. Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent the ruling Hamas militant group from arming itself.

Hamas says youths have organized the protests in response to Israeli provocations. The demonstrations continued Wednesday, with hundreds of Palestinians rallying at the separation fence. Palestinian health officials said Israeli forces shot and wounded four protesters.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.