The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of carrying out “massacres” after clashes in Jenin in the northern West Bank left at least four Palestinians dead and ten seriously wounded.
“The Israeli occupation is continuing to tamper with security and stability,” said PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh. “Israel and the US have lost their credibility.”
Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Israel bore responsibility for the repercussions of the Jenin “crime”. He said the ongoing military raids were linked to the Israeli election campaign ahead of the November 1st vote.
The comments came in response to an Israeli army operation on Wednesday morning to arrest Palestinian gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp, regarded by Israel as a hotbed of militant activity.
Israel said two of the gunmen killed were responsible for carrying out a number of recent shooting attacks and that they planned “more significant attacks in the near future”.
Troops surrounded the home belonging to the family of Ra’ad Hazem, the gunman who opened fire in April on a bar in Tel Aviv, killing three people. Two men described as militants were killed inside the building, including Ra’ad’s brother, Abd al-Rahman.
According to Palestinian reports, the troops fired a missile at the building before storming the structure, but the Israeli military said the wanted gunmen set off a large bomb as troops attempted to enter the home. Two other Palestinians, including a member of the Palestinian security forces, were killed in the clashes, and 44 others were hurt.
Prime minister Yair Lapid praised the Israeli troops for carrying out a “precise operation at the highest level”.
“The security forces acted with determination to stop a number of terrorists involved in planning attacks to murder Israelis, including the murderer’s brother from the Tel Aviv shooting who planned to carry more attacks,” he said.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, claimed the two men killed in the house were their operatives and threatened to avenge their deaths.
The Fatah movement called for a “day of rage” across the West Bank, including a general strike and marches to Israeli border checkpoints.
After the operation, several Palestinian groups repeated their demand that the PA stop its security co-ordination with Israel. They urged Palestinians in the West Bank to step up the “resistance” attacks against soldiers and Jewish settlers.
The groups also urged the PA to stop its ongoing arrests of militants from political rivals, such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
Israel has accused the PA of losing control in the northern West Bank, enabling militants to control the streets of Jenin and Nablus, the largest West Bank city, and the adjacent refugee camps.
The Palestinian leadership accuse Israel of undermining its credibility by its almost daily raids into Palestinian towns and camps.
Wednesday’s clashes came after Israel lifted a two-day closure imposed on the West Bank to coincide with the Jewish New Year holiday and a high state of alert continues ahead of the Yom Kippur fast day next week.