The Israeli military carried out a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday that it said was aimed at arresting a suspect in the fatal shooting of two Israeli brothers recently. In the spiraling violence, six Palestinians were killed, according to Palestinian health officials, and Israel said one of them was the target of the raid.
Armed militant groups in Jenin said on the messaging platform Telegram on Tuesday that they had clashed with the Israeli forces during the raid, using firearms and explosive devices, and that they had downed a military drone.
An Israeli military spokesman said the suspect killed, Abd al-Fattah Kharousha, was an operative of the Islamist militant group Hamas, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with army rules. The brothers were shot as they drove through the Palestinian village of Huwara in the northern West Bank late last month.
The killing of the brothers, residents of a Jewish settlement near Huwara, prompted a revenge attack by Jewish settlers on Huwara and surrounding Palestinian villages. The settlers burned and vandalized at least 200 buildings in four Palestinian villages, according to tallies from Israeli rights groups and Palestinian officials.
One Palestinian man was killed in the revenge attacks, although it remains unclear whether he was shot by a settler or by a member of the Israeli security forces.
Tuesday’s raid was the latest escalation in weeks of violence and it came despite regional and international efforts to calm the tense atmosphere.
The killing of the brothers and the revenge attacks came on a day when Palestinian and other Arab officials participated in a summit in neighboring Jordan, along with senior U.S. representatives, to discuss ways to calm the rising tensions in the region.
More settler violence was reported in Huwara on Monday and Tuesday, as well as stone-throwing by Palestinians, as Jews celebrated the holiday of Purim, a festival commemorating the salvation of the Jewish community from annihilation in the ancient Persian Empire.
The escalating violence has set the area on edge in the approach to the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which begins later this month. The first months of 2023 have already proved the deadliest in years for both Palestinians and Israelis, and tensions during Ramadan have led to broader conflagrations in the past.
At least 65 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of 2023, mainly in gun battles between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli soldiers, and at least 15 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank, including one with dual American and Israeli citizenship.
Patrick Kingsley and Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting.