The Israeli military has killed two Palestinians during a raid in the occupied West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp after heavy clashes erupted, Palestinian officials have said, bringing the number of Palestinians killed in the last 72 hours up to eight.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the men killed on Thursday were 27-year-old Naeem Jamal al-Zubaidi and 26-year-old Mohammed Ayman al-Saadi. Another man was also injured.
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The Jenin Battalion of Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades said that the men killed were two of its leaders.
The Israeli military said troops came under fire, and shot back, during a Jenin-area raid to arrest suspected militants.
The bodies of the two men were carried by Palestinian crowds from the Ibn Sina Hospital through the streets of the Jenin refugee camp.
Fatah and other Palestinian factions have called for a strike in Jenin on Thursday in protest over the killings.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian during a raid in Yabad, near Jenin, medical and military officials said.
WAFA named the 25-year-old as Mohammed Tawfiq Badarneh.
Israel’s military said it had entered Yabad to arrest Abd Al-Ghani Harzallah, who it “suspected of terrorist activity”.
The army added that it opened fire after “armed suspects fired at the soldiers and explosive devices were hurled in the area”.
This week’s deaths raise the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel this year to 210, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Israel regularly raids the West Bank, which it has illegally occupied since 1967, but has stepped up the frequency this year in an attempt to crack down on growing resistance from Palestinian armed factions, particularly in Jenin and Nablus.
The near-daily raids regularly result in Israeli forces killing Palestinians.
Thirty-one people in Israel and the occupied West Bank have also been killed in Palestinian attacks this year, according to Israeli military figures.
Israeli unit removed from West Bank
The Israeli military separately said on Wednesday that it was temporarily removing a unit of ultra-Orthodox soldiers out of the occupied West Bank after a 78-year-old Palestinian American man died following an arrest by its soldiers early this year.
The army said the Netzah Yehuda (Judea Forever) Battalion will be moved to the occupied Golan Heights by the end of the year.
The announcement made no mention of the death of Omar Assad, who died after being arrested, handcuffed and blindfolded by Israeli soldiers.
Instead, it said the decision “was made out of a desire to diversify their operational deployment in multiple areas, in addition to accumulating more operational experience”. It said the unit would return to the West Bank at the end of next year.
Netzah Yehuda is a special unit for ultra-Orthodox Jewish soldiers. The unit was formed to encourage religious men, who often receive special exemptions from compulsory military service, to join the army. But its members have been implicated in past cases of abuse.
Last January, troops from Netzah Yehuda detained Assad at a checkpoint, binding his hands and blindfolding him. Troops then unbound his hands and left him face-down in an abandoned building.
The elderly man, who had lived in the United States for 40 years, was pronounced dead at a hospital after other Palestinians found him unconscious. It was unclear when exactly he died.
An autopsy undertaken by Palestinian doctors found Assad suffered from underlying health conditions, but also found bruises on his head, redness on his wrists from being bound and bleeding in his eyelids from being tightly blindfolded.
After an outcry from the US government, the Israeli military said the incident “was a grave and unfortunate event, resulting from moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers”. It said one officer was reprimanded and two other officers reassigned to non-commanding roles, over the incident.