5 Palestinians killed, 8 Israeli soldiers wounded in fierce West Bank violence


(JTA) — The northern West Bank city of Jenin saw its heaviest violence in decades as Israeli soldiers on a military raid clashed with Palestinian militants.

Five Palestinians were killed in the violence on Monday and more than 90 were wounded, according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. Eight Israeli soldiers were wounded in the fighting — the latest in a string of clashes in Jenin over the past year.

Israeli forces entered Jenin in order to arrest two terror suspects and encountered militants who detonated roadside bombs, trapping the Israeli soldiers in five vehicles. The fighting lasted eight hours and ended when, for the first time in two decades, a combat helicopter fired on Palestinian militants in the West Bank, allowing the Israeli troops to be evacuated.

In response to the incident, Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli far-right finance minister who is also in charge of Israeli settlement expansion, called for a “broad operation to eradicate the terror nests in northern Samaria,” the name the Israeli government uses for the northern West Bank.

“The time has come to send in air and tank forces to protect the lives of our fighters,” he said, according to the Times of Israel.

One of the Palestinians who was killed was 15 years old, and at least three of the five were affiliated with Islamic Jihad, which the United States and European Union have designated as a terror group. The Israeli soldiers were taken to hospitals, and some were undergoing surgery. Palestinian journalists covering the clashes were also wounded by Israeli fire, according to the Associated Press, roughly a year after, according to the Israel Defense Forces, Israeli gunfire accidentally killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Jenin was the site of heavy fighting during the second intifada two decades ago, and has been the site of repeated deadly clashes in recent months amid escalating violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Since the beginning of the year, more than a dozen Israeli civilians have been killed, as have more than 100 West Bank Palestinians, both militants and civilians.

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