Israel says Palestinian militants fired rockets after raid



JERUSALEM — The Israeli navy mentioned Palestinian militants fired six rockets from the Gaza Strip towards the nation’s south early Thursday, hours after an Israeli military raid within the occupied West Financial institution triggered a fierce gunbattle by which 11 Palestinians had been killed.

The rocket assaults, which weren’t instantly claimed by Palestinian militant teams, look like triggered by the Wednesday morning raid in Nablus.

The Israeli navy mentioned air defenses intercepted 5 of the rockets which had been fired towards the cities of Ashkelon and Sderot. One missile landed in an open subject. Israeli plane then struck a number of targets in northern and central Gaza. There have been no reviews of accidents in Israel or Gaza.

Among the many useless in Nablus had been three Palestinian males, ages 72, 66 and 61, and a 16-year-old boy, based on well being officers. Scores of others had been wounded.

It was one of many bloodiest battles in practically a yr of combating within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem and raised the chance of additional bloodshed. Israeli police mentioned they had been on heightened alert, whereas the Hamas militant group in Gaza mentioned its persistence was “operating out.” Islamic Jihad, one other militant group, vowed to retaliate.

The four-hour operation left a broad swath of harm in a centuries-old market in Nablus, a metropolis often called a militant stronghold.

In a single emotional scene, an overwhelmed medic pronounced a person useless, solely to note the lifeless affected person was his father. Elsewhere, an beginner video confirmed two males, apparently unarmed, being shot as they ran on the street.

Israel has been finishing up stepped-up arrest raids of needed militants within the West Financial institution since a collection of lethal Palestinian assaults in Israel final spring.

Israeli officers liken these operations to “mowing the garden,” saying they’re mandatory to stop a tough scenario from turning worse. However the raids have proven few indicators of slowing the violence, and in instances like Wednesday’s operation, can elevate the chance of reprisals.

The Israeli navy mentioned it entered Nablus, the West Financial institution’s industrial middle, to arrest three militants suspected in earlier taking pictures assaults. The primary suspect was needed within the killing of an Israeli soldier final fall.

The navy normally conducts raids at night time in what it says is a tactic meant to cut back the chance of civilian casualties. However navy spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht mentioned forces moved shortly after intelligence companies tracked down the lads in a hideout.

Hecht mentioned Israeli forces surrounded the constructing and requested the lads to give up, however as an alternative they opened fireplace. One militant who tried to flee the constructing was shot and killed. He mentioned the navy then fired missiles on the home, flattening the constructing and killing the opposite two males.

On the similar time, he mentioned, troops that had arrange an outdoor perimeter got here beneath heavy fireplace, setting off an intense gunfight. The navy mentioned others hurled rocks and explosives on the troops, and officers launched a video taken from inside an armored car as crowds of Palestinian youths pelted it with stones. There have been no Israeli casualties.

The inflow of wounded overwhelmed the town’s Najah Hospital, mentioned Ahmad Aswad, the top nurse of the cardiology division.

The 36-year-old medic instructed The Related Press that he noticed many sufferers shot within the chest, head and thighs. “They shot to kill,” he mentioned.

In a second he mentioned will hang-out him, he and a colleague rigorously extracted a bullet from a 61-year-old man’s coronary heart. After the chaos subsided they usually pronounced their affected person useless, they appeared on the man’s face. It was his colleague’s father, Abdelaziz Ashqar.

His colleague, Elias Ashqar, was overcome and went silent. “It didn’t really feel like we had been in actuality,” Aswad mentioned.

Within the Previous Metropolis of Nablus, individuals stared on the rubble that had been a big residence within the centuries-old market. From one finish to the opposite, outlets had been riddled with bullets. Parked vehicles had been crushed. Blood stained the cement ruins. Furnishings from the destroyed residence was scattered amongst mounds of particles.

Time-stamped safety footage extensively shared on-line appeared to point out two younger males operating down a road. Gunshots are heard, and each fall to the bottom, with one’s hat flying off his head.

The 2 males didn’t look like armed, however the video didn’t present the occasions that led to the taking pictures.

Hecht referred to as the video “problematic,” and mentioned the navy was wanting into it.

Varied Palestinian militant teams claimed six of the useless — together with the three focused within the raid — as members. There was no rapid phrase on whether or not the others belonged to armed teams. Later, officers mentioned a 66-year-old man had died from tear gasoline inhalation.

Because the our bodies had been paraded by the group on stretchers, 1000’s of individuals packed the streets, chanting in help of the militants. Masked males fired into the air.

Israel’s police pressure mentioned it was beefing up safety within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem in anticipation of violence.

Final month, Israeli troops killed 10 individuals in an analogous raid within the northern West Financial institution. In response, Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza. The next day, a lone Palestinian gunman opened fireplace close to a synagogue in an east Jerusalem settlement, killing seven individuals.

Days later, 5 Palestinian militants had been killed in an Israeli arrest raid elsewhere within the West Financial institution. That was adopted by a Palestinian automobile ramming that killed three Israelis, together with two younger brothers, in Jerusalem.

The combating comes at a delicate time, lower than two months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new hard-line authorities took workplace.

The federal government is dominated by ultranationalists who’ve pushed for more durable motion in opposition to Palestinian militants and vowed to entrench Israeli rule within the occupied West Financial institution. Israeli media have quoted prime safety officers as expressing concern that this might result in much more violence because the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches.

The Cupboard contains a lot of West Financial institution settler leaders. In a transfer that would additional elevate tensions, Yesha, the settlement council, introduced that Israeli planning officers had granted approval to just about 2,000 new properties in settlements throughout the West Financial institution. There was no rapid affirmation from the federal government, however an announcement was anticipated Thursday.

The Palestinians and many of the worldwide neighborhood say settlements constructed on occupied lands are unlawful and obstacles to peace. Over 700,000 settlers now reside within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in 1967 and sought by the Palestinians for a future state.

In Washington, State Division spokesman Ned Worth mentioned the U.S. acknowledges Israel’s “very actual” safety considerations, however was additionally “deeply involved” in regards to the deaths and accidents from the raid.

He urged each side to keep away from steps that would “inflame tensions,” together with the attainable approval of recent settlements.

The Israeli determination comes within the wake of a U.N. presidential assertion that strongly criticized settlements. The U.S. blocked what would have been a stronger, legally binding council decision.

American diplomats claimed to have extracted an Israeli pledge to halt unilateral motion to dam the decision. The approval of recent settlements by Israel would seem to undermine that declare.

The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, urged the worldwide neighborhood “to place an finish to those massacres in opposition to our individuals.”

Within the Gaza Strip, Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the ruling Hamas militant group, warned that Hamas’ ”persistence is operating out,” he mentioned.

Late Wednesday, Palestinian activists burned tires alongside Gaza’s frontier with Israel in protest.

Hamas has battled Israel in 4 wars since seizing management of Gaza in 2007.

Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad Al-Nakhala referred to as the Israeli raid a “enormous crime.”

“It’s our responsibility as resistance forces to reply to this crime with out hesitation,” he mentioned.

Practically 60 Palestinians have been killed within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem this yr, based on an AP tally.

Final yr, practically 150 Palestinians had been killed in these areas, making it the deadliest yr there since 2004, based on figures by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Some 30 individuals on the Israeli facet had been killed in Palestinian assaults.

Tufaha reported from Nablus. Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed reporting.


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