by IANS |
Jerusalem, March 8 (IANS) At least six Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in an Israeli raid aimed at arresting a suspect involved in the killing of two Israeli brothers the previous week, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.
In a video statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Palestinian suspect was killed during the raid on Tuesday in the refugee camp of Jenin in the northern West Bank, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Palestinian Health Ministry stated in a press release that six individuals were killed by gunshots, and at least 16 others were wounded during a gunbattle between Palestinians and Israeli troops in Jenin.
Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, said in a statement that the Israeli troops surrounded a building where the suspect, identified as 49-year-old Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, and other militants were hiding.
The troops fired shoulder-launched missiles at the building. Video footage on social media showed large clouds of smoke emerging from a building in Jenin.
The Israeli authorities said Kharousha, a member of the Palestinian armed group and movement of Hamas, shot dead two Israeli settlers outside the town of Hawara in the northern West Bank on February 26. The attack prompted hundreds of Israeli settlers to go on a rampage in Hawara and other nearby towns, torching Palestinian houses, cars, and shops.
Netanyahu on Tuesday praised the Israeli forces, while vowing to continue to pursue Palestinian assailants who attack Israelis. "Whoever hurts us -- his blood on his head," he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh condemned the Israeli raid in a statement, saying that the "crime committed by the occupation forces reaffirms the Israeli government's intention to thwart all regional and international efforts aimed at stopping all unilateral actions."
The raid is the latest in a series of Israeli military operations in the West Bank to arrest Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis.
The Israeli-Palestinian tension has been escalating since the start of this year, leading to the killing of more than 70 Palestinians and 13 Israelis amid a vicious circle of violence.