15 Palestinians killed across West Bank in Israeli forces raid, settler violence: health officials

Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, while an ambulance driver was killed as he went to pick up wounded from a separate attack by violent Jewish settlers, Palestinian authorities said.

An extended raid by Israeli forces began in the early hours of Friday in the Nur Shams refugee camp, near the flashpoint Palestinian city of Tulkarm, and they were still exchanging fire with armed fighters well into Saturday.

Israeli military vehicles amassed and bursts of gunfire were heard, while at least three drones were seen hovering above Nur Shams, an area housing refugees and their descendants from the 1948 war that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel.

The Tulkarm Brigades, which combines forces from numerous Palestinian factions, said its fighters exchanged fire with Israeli forces on Saturday.

The West Bank, a kidney-shaped area about 100 kilometres long and 50 kilometres wide, has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since it was seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

A line of military vehicles are seen parked on a hillside road.
Israeli soldiers line up on a street during a raid at the Nur Shams camp on Saturday. (Zain Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)

The war in Gaza has overshadowed continuing violence in the territory, including regular army raids on militant groups, rampages by Jewish settlers in Palestinian villages and street attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.

Thousands of Palestinians have been arrested and hundreds killed during regular operations by Israeli army and police since the start of the Gaza war in October.

On Saturday, Palestinian health authorities said at least 14 Palestinians — two of whom were identified by Palestinian sources and officials as a gunman and a 16-year-old boy — were killed during the raid, one of the heaviest casualty totals in the West Bank in months. Another man was killed on Friday.

The Israeli military said a number of militants were killed or arrested during the raid, and at least four soldiers were wounded in exchanges of fire.

An adult embraces a young child as they mourn.
Relatives of Palestinians killed during an Israeli raid at the Nur Shams camp mourn at a morgue in the occupied West Bank on Saturday. (Zain Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)

In a separate incident, the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 50-year-old ambulance driver was killed by Israeli gunfire near the village of Al-Sawiya, south of the city of Nablus, as he was making his way to transport people injured during the attack on the village.

It was not immediately clear whether he was shot by settlers. There was no immediate comment from the military.

Gaza strikes continue

In Gaza, where fighting has continued despite the withdrawal of most of Israel’s combat forces earlier this month from southern areas, the death toll passed 34,000, Palestinian health authorities said on Saturday.

Israeli strikes hit the southern city of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians are sheltering, as well as Nuseirat in central Gaza, where at least five houses were destroyed, and the Jabalia area in the north, health officials and Hamas media said.

In Rafah, a strike hit a house and badly wounded a pregnant woman, but doctors at the Kuwaiti hospital were able to save the baby, medics said.

A hole in the wall frames a person standing amid the rubble.
A Palestinian woman checks the rubble of a home hit by overnight Israeli bombing in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Israeli military said troops were carrying out raids in central Gaza, where they were engaged in close-quarter combat with Palestinian fighters.

Overall, Israeli strikes in Gaza killed 37 Palestinians and wounded 68 over the past 24 hours, Palestinian health authorities said.

Rafah is the last Gaza area that Israeli ground forces have not entered in the more than six-month war aimed at eliminating the Islamist Hamas group that rules the enclave, following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, that killed some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners and saw about 250 people taken hostage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced wide international opposition to the plan to attack Rafah, where the military says the last remaining organized brigades of Hamas are located and where the remaining 133 Israeli hostages are believed to be held.

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