In a recent development from the West Bank, tensions between Israel and Palestinian factions have escalated dramatically, leading to a significant increase in both military actions and civilian casualties.
Deadly Strikes in Balata Refugee Camp
During a night raid, the Israeli military launched an attack on a building in the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus in the West Bank, which resulted in the death of five people and the wounding of two others.
The Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed these casualties. According to the camp management, the airstrike targeted the local headquarters of Fatah, a major Palestinian political party. The Israeli army, however, stated that the operation was aimed at "terrorists who were planning explosive attacks." Balata refugee camp, home to about 24,000 people, is one of the largest in the West Bank.
This incident adds to the rising number of confrontations in the area.
Increasing Violence and International Concern
The strike in Balata came just a day after the Israeli military reported the killing of at least seven armed Palestinians in two separate incidents in the West Bank.
The military said five were killed in the Jenin refugee camp, with two more "attackers" killed near Hebron. Since the beginning of what Israel describes as an indiscriminate war in the Gaza Strip, following an attack by Hamas on October 7, there has been a notable increase in Israeli military activity in the West Bank.
The United Nations reports that at least 186 Palestinians, including 51 children, have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since that date. In addition, eight Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers, while four Israelis lost their lives in Palestinian attacks.
The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah has reported that more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the onset of the Israeli war on Gaza, highlighting a surge in army raids and violence by Israeli settlers.
Amidst these developments, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Israel to address the "rising levels of settler extremist violence." His statement underscores the growing international concern over the escalation of violence and its impact on civilians in the region.