At least 11 Palestinians were killed during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which said that Israeli forces wounded more than 100 others in the fighting.
The Israel Defense Forces announced a different death toll, saying three alleged terrorists were killed. It said there were no Israeli casualties.
The Israeli military said via Twitter that Wednesday’s operation targeted the Palestinian militant group called the Lion’s Den, which it says recently carried out shooting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and was planning more violence.
Palestinian officials acknowledged that militants were killed in the raid. But they also say others, including a 16-year-old boy and a 72-year-old man, are among the dead.
The Palestinian figures included one death from tear gas exposure.
The unusual daytime raid unfolded in the dense kasbah area of Nablus, a major city in the northern West Bank.
The Israeli military said it was attempting to arrest three accused militants, adding that it surrounded their apartment building and called for them to surrender. One of the men tried to flee the building, while the other two opened fire on the soldiers, the IDF said, adding that all three were killed.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. recognizes Israel’s security concerns but is also “deeply concerned by the large number of injured and the loss of civilian lives” in the raid in Nablus.
News service images from the scene show that in addition to gunfire from the main clash, locals pelted military vehicles with rocks and fruit, as fires raged in the street.
Wednesday’s fighting is part of an alarming new pattern of violence, which has surged since the spring of last year. The Israeli military started a months-long campaign of raids and detentions in the West Bank it said it began as a response to Palestinian attacks in Israel. The IDF says those raids have targeted militants — but they have also left many civilians dead.
So far this year, at least 55 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to The Associated Press. That puts 2023 on a path to surpass the 150 people killed in 2022.
In late January, an Israeli military raid that it said was targeting militants in the crowded Jenin refugee camp killed 10 people, including militants and 61-year-old woman. The next day, a Palestinian gunman opened fire outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven people.