TULKAREM, Palestinian Territories: Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians in a pre-dawn raid on Sunday in the West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, as the army confirmed it dismantled a militant “operational command centre” in the occupied territory.
Violence has surged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since early last year, particularly in the West Bank where eight Palestinians have now been killed in Israeli incursions since Tuesday.
“Two Palestinians were killed by live Israeli bullets to the head,” the ministry said.
The army said one of its soldiers was “moderately injured by gunshot fragments” during clashes in Nur Shams refugee camp near the town.
The Palestinian health ministry identified the two killed as Osaid Abu Ali, 21, and Abd al-Rahman Abu Daghash, 32.
Palestinian group Hamas said that “martyr Osaid Abu Ali” was one of its fighters.
Ibrahim al-Nimer, a representative of the Palestinian Prisoners´ Club advocacy group in the camp, told AFP that “the army entered the camp after 2:00 am ... and demolished streets and some houses”.
The army said it had dismantled an “operational command centre” inside a building which “contained observation devices, computers and technological devices”.
“During the activity, suspects opened fire and hurled explosive devices at the forces, who responded with live fire,” the army said.
An AFP journalist who toured the Nur Shams camp hours after the raid saw that a roof of a building and its walls had fully caved in, as residents inspected the damage.
Several military vehicles had entered the camp during the night, resident Omar Sabhan told AFP.
“The situation was very scary. Snipers were stationed ... and they shot anything that moved,” he said.
He added that residents of the camp backed Palestinian “resistance” groups.
“Everyone wants this resistance. This is a legitimate right,” he said.
Later on Sunday, crowds of mourners attended the funeral of the two Palestinians. Israeli forces had raided the same camp on September 5, and a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group had been shot dead at the time.
Recent months have seen a surge in military raids and a rise in Palestinian attacks on Israelis, as well as an increase in Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.
In early July, the Israeli army carried out its biggest raid in years on the Jenin refugee camp in which at least 13 Palestinians were killed, including militants and children.
One Israeli soldier was also killed in that raid, but by Israeli fire “following an incident of mistaken identification,” the army said days later.
Israel has occupied the West Bank -- now home to some three million Palestinians — since the Six-Day War of 1967.
Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the territory is now home to around 490,000 Israelis who live in settlements that are considered illegal under international law. The Palestinians, who seek their own independent state, want Israel to withdraw from all land it occupied in the Six-Day War and to dismantle all Jewish settlements.
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