Israeli forces make more arrests in third day of raids on West Bank's Jenin

Israeli forces make more arrests in third day of raids on West Bank's Jenin
The Israeli army said 14 Palestinians were arrested early on Monday, a day after four Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank.
3 min read
Israel continues its raids near Palestine's Jenin [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty]

Israeli forces launched a third day of operations on Monday around the flashpoint city of Jenin in Palestine's illegally occupied West Bank, following heavy gun battles in recent days and overnight arrests, Israel's army said.

It comes as Israeli troops on Sunday shot dead a Palestinian widow because she looked "suspicious" as she walked near a checkpoint close to the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to an Israeli forces spokesperson, who confirmed that she was unarmed.

The military claimed she had approached and failed to stop after they had fired warning shots, but footage shared online showed the woman had raised her arms as she attempted to flee while Israeli forces opened fire at her.

Tensions have soared in the past three weeks. A spree of attacks in Israel left 14 people dead while the same number of Palestinians have also been killed, according to a count by AFP.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has warned that Israel was now "on the offensive".

The Israeli army said 14 Palestinians were arrested early on Monday, a day after four Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in occupied Palestine.

An additional 13 army battalions were now operating in the West Bank, said a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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In Jenin, thousands of mourners flooded the streets, many carrying Palestinian flags or rifles, for the funeral of Mohamed Zakarneh, 17, who according to the Wafa news agency, died of gunshot wounds overnight.

"The resistance is in direct confrontation with the occupation and any minute we must expect a total clash," Ziad Al-Nakhala, secretary-general of the militant Islamic Jihad movement, said in a statement.

"Jenin must not be isolated, no matter the cost."

The Israeli army said it operated nearby on Monday, in Burqa and Qallil in the northern West Bank, as well as in the south in Al-Aroub and in Hebron, where 800 extremist Israeli settlers and 200,000 Palestinians live.

The Israeli army claimed that "violent riots were instigated by dozens of Palestinians" near Nablus, while the Palestine Red Crescent said 24 Palestinians were wounded in that area overnight.

Jenin, as well as Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, declared general strikes, shuttering shops, offices and official institutions.

Weeks of violence

Tensions have surged in Ramadan, after violence flared during the Muslim holy month last year, with Israel launching a deadly 11-day bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip. This killed over 250 Palestinians, including dozens of children.

Wrong turn

Israeli troops were targeting relatives of Raad Hazem, the 28-year-old Jenin man who last Thursday killed three Israeli civilians and wounded 12 at a Tel Aviv bar before he was shot dead following a manhunt.

The Israeli army demanded the father hand himself in, ahead of the planned demolition of the family home. Israel routinely destroys homes belonging to the families of Palestinians who carry out attacks, a form of collectively punishment that has been widely condemned. 

The Israeli army said it had engaged in an exchange of gunfire involving the assailant's family members on Sunday - in which 17-year-old Zakarneh was killed.

Another Palestinian from the Bethlehem area was shot dead on Sunday after hurling a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli vehicle, the army alleged to AFP.

In another incident overnight, two Israelis were reportedly shot and wounded after entering the Palestinian city of Nablus.

"A group of Israeli civilians entered the city after breaking through an unmanned military checkpoint," said an army statement.

Shortly after, it said, the two Israeli men emerged at another checkpoint "with gunshot wounds".

One of the men involved told Israeli state broadcaster Kan they had gone to inspect Joseph's tomb.

"We were done and heading back to Jerusalem but then we took a wrong turn,"  he said, alleging that they had been shot at by a "terrorist".