RAMALLAH: An Israeli military raid on a refugee camp led to the killing of two Palestinians, sparking fears on both sides of an imminent escalation in violence across the West Bank.
The attack on the Balata refugee camp near the northern city of Nablus led to the deaths of Saed Mesha, 32, and Adnan Al-Araj, 19.
In a separate incident near the northern city of Jenin, Israeli police shot and killed another Palestinian.
Local sources said that in the Balata raid, Israeli undercover special agents, accompanied by the armed forces, surrounded a house in the Al-Jamasin neighborhood in the center of the camp. Several snipers took positions on roofs. A heavy exchange of fire with resistance fighters then took place.
With the deaths, the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army and settlers since the beginning of the year now totals 150.
Prominent Palestinian leaders and analysts told Arab News that if Israeli strikes and the destruction of houses in Gaza continue, a wave of violence could break out in the West Bank.
Ahmed Ghuneim, a prominent Fatah leader in East Jerusalem, told Arab News that the Israeli army’s action against the Palestinians in the West Bank preceded the targeting of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, “as Israel fears an escalation in the West Bank more than it fears an escalation in the Gaza Strip.”
He added that the Israeli army was “working hard” to limit the capabilities of the Palestinian resistance in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Ghuneim said he feared that Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip, including missile manufacturers, could transfer to the West Bank, which the Israeli security services would consider a significant threat to their country.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, said that Israeli authorities had “crossed all red lines” by killing Palestinians and raiding cities, villages and camps.
He added that the US administration bore responsibility for the deterioration of the situation due to its silence on Israeli activities.
Rawhi Fattouh, chairman of the Palestinian National Council, called on international human rights organizations to investigate the “war crimes” committed by Israeli forces against Palestinians. He urged them to “expose the lies and allegations” that the Israeli army uses to justify its killings of Palestinians.
He called on the UN and the International Criminal Court to send teams to investigate violations and killings committed by the Israeli government as well as army commanders.
Hussein Al-Sheikh of the Palestine Liberation Organization called on the US and Arab countries to pressure Israel to immediately end its aggression against Palestine and open crossings with the Gaza Strip to transfer the injured for treatment.
Palestinian Premier Mohammed Shtayyeh demanded an urgent intervention by the UN to stop Israeli “atrocities” against Palestinians.
The murder of the two Palestinians in Balata and Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip “is a continuation of its policy of killing, destruction and displacement,” he said, adding that the UN must hold Israel accountable.