4 Palestinians Die in IDF Raid in Jenin, Prompting West Bank General Strike
Israel says gunfire erupted after troops surrounded location of two of the dead, who were wanted for spate of shooting attacks; Abbas spokesman says Israel is ‘tampering with security and stability’
There were no signs Wednesday that tensions were easing in the West Bank, as four Palestinians were killed in a raid by Israeli forces and dozens more were wounded.
The West Bank has seen a surge of violence in recent months as Israel has intensified raids following a wave of fatal Palestinian attacks. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said earlier this month that around “1,500 wanted persons” have been arrested and “hundreds of attacks” foiled since the end of March.
At least 90 Palestinians have been killed in nightly IDF raids in cities, towns, and villages across the West Bank, making this the deadliest year in the territory in six years; 19 Israelis were also killed in attacks between mid-March and the beginning of May, and an Israeli army officer was killed in an exchange of gunfire near Jenin in mid-September.
Gunfire erupted on Wednesday morning as Israeli troops surrounded the home of Ra’ad Hazem, who killed three people in a shooting spree in a Tel Aviv bar in April. His brother Rahman Hazem died Wednesday alongside fellow suspected gunman Muhammad al-Wana. Both were inside the house at the time.
Israel said the two were responsible for a spate of recent gun attacks and local media quoted Israeli officials as saying that the two had been preparing to carry out “more significant attacks” soon.
The Israel Defense Forces said that the two men had opened fire as troops moved to surround the location.
“While surrounding the residence in which both suspects were located, an explosive device detonated, and the suspects opened fire toward the security forces. The security forces fired back according to standard operating procedures and the two suspects were both killed,” the IDF said.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said after the incident that Israel “will not hesitate or be deterred to act against anybody who tries to hurt Israeli citizens or our security forces,” Israeli media reported.
The other two Palestinians who were killed in the raid were named as Palestinian Authority security officer Ahmad Alawneh and presumed bystander Muhammad Abu Na’asa.
Palestinians across the West Bank held a general strike after the gunfight, shuttering services, shops, and schools in protest of the deaths. Fatah, the political movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called for the strike as well as a “day of rage.”
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah said after the clashes that Israel was “tampering with security and stability through pursuing a policy of escalation,” according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, slammed the IDF raid as “a major crime committed by the occupation in the city of Jenin.”
“The government of Israel bears responsibility for these crimes and their repercussions,” al-Sheikh said, and urged the international community “to assume its responsibilities to protect the Palestinian people.”
The Islamist Hamas organization that governs the Gaza Strip said after the raid that it would not ignore the killing of Palestinians by Israeli troops.
“The cowardly assassinations of the martyrs in Jenin will not go unnoticed, and will not bring the enemy alleged security,” Hamas said.