Israeli troops raid West Bank refugee camp, Gaza fighting continues

israeli troops raid west bank refugee camp, gaza fighting continues

A Palestinian boy stands on what remains of a balcony of a flat hit by overnight Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP

Israeli forces fought Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank on Saturday in the second day of a raid that has so far left at least two people dead, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, while fighting also continued in Gaza.

Israeli forces launched the raid on the Nur Shams area, near the Palestinian city of Tulkarm, on Friday. A number of militants were killed and more arrested, the Israeli military said, and at least four soldiers were wounded in fire exchanges.

Tulkarm Brigades group, which includes militants from numerous Palestinian factions, said its fighters were still exchanging fire with Israeli forces on Saturday. At least three drones were seen hovering above Nur Shams, where Israeli military vehicles were massed and bursts of gunfire were heard.

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

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.

Fighting has continued in Gaza despite the withdrawal of most of Israel’s combat forces earlier this month from southern areas.

Rafah is the last Gaza area that Israeli ground forces have not entered in a more than six-month war aimed at eliminating the Hamas group that rules the enclave.

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

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

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed the deaths of two people since Friday in Nur Shams, an area that houses refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants. One fatality was identified by Palestinian sources as a gunman. The second was a 16-year-old schoolboy, according to Palestinian officials.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the United States for effectively stopping the United Nations from recognising a Palestinian state by casting a veto this week in the Security Council.

In an interview with the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would reconsider bilateral relations with the United States.

The West Bank and Gaza are among the territories that the Palestinians seek for an independent state.

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