Exchanges of rocket and missile fire occurred on Thursday between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip, the day after a deadly raid by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank.
In the aftermath of a murderous raid by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip clashed Thursday, February 23, with rocket and missile attacks.
Eleven Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy, were killed Wednesday and more than 80 others were shot and wounded in the Israeli military incursion into Nablus, the deadliest operation by the Israeli army in the West Bank since 2005.
According to a recurring scenario, this violence was followed in the night by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, followed by Israeli airstrikes, at dawn, on this territory under the control of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas since 2007. No victim was immediately recorded following this new pass of arms.
“De-escalation of tensions”
Before that, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was alarmed that the situation “in the occupied Palestinian territory (is) the most inflammable in years”.
The European Union called on “all parties (to work) towards a return to calm and a de-escalation of tensions”.
Paris urged “all actors to refrain from any action that could fuel (the) spiral” of violence and the United States said it was “extremely concerned” by the level of violence in the West Bank.
Since the beginning of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 60 Palestinians (including members of armed groups and civilians, including minors) and nine civilians (including three minors) and an Israeli policeman as well than a Ukrainian, according to an AFP tally compiled from official Israeli and Palestinian sources.
“Our immediate priority must be to prevent further escalation, reduce tensions and restore calm,” pleaded Antonio Guterres.
Before dawn on Thursday, several rockets – eight according to Palestinian witnesses, six according to the Israeli army – were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
These shots were claimed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which had called on “the resistance forces” to respond “without hesitation” to the “major crime” committed, according to him, by the Israeli army in Nablus.
The Israeli army said it intercepted five rockets using its air defense system. It then carried out airstrikes against several targets in the Gaza Strip.
The strikes targeted “a weapons factory” and a “military camp” both belonging to Hamas, the army said in a statement.
On Wednesday afternoon, in Nablus, a compact crowd, including armed men, took part in the funerals of nine of those killed in the Israeli military operation. A tenth death was buried in the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Balata.
The eleventh dead, aged 66, died in the evening as a result of tear gas inhalation, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The Israeli army said it carried out an “anti-terrorist operation” in the Palestinian autonomous zone during which “three suspects wanted and involved in armed attacks (in the West Bank) and planning attacks for the immediate future (have) been neutralized”.
Firing stones and explosive devices
During the operation, which lasted almost four hours, stones and explosive devices were fired at the soldiers, the army added, adding that none of them had been injured.
At least 82 people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds, some of them in serious condition, the Palestinian ministry said.
Islamic Jihad said one of the local commanders of its military wing was among the dead. According to the armed group Areen al-Oussoud (“The Den of the Lions”), based in Nablus, six fighters from different Palestinian factions are among the 10 dead.
Moustapha Shahine, a resident, heard explosions and gunshots in the morning. “A large number of soldiers stormed” the center of Nablus, he told AFP.
Israeli forces have been increasing for nearly a year what they present as “anti-terrorist” operations in search of “suspects” in the northern West Bank, particularly in Nablus and Jenin, strongholds of Palestinian armed groups.
On Twitter, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh denounced a “premeditated and barbaric criminal act” and called on the international community to “intervene immediately”.
Paris calls on Israel to exercise restraint
France on Wednesday called on Israel to respect its obligations in terms of respect for international humanitarian law, the proportionate use of force as well as the imperative to protect civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.
An Israeli army operation in Nablus in the West Bank during the day resulted in the deaths of at least 11 people, medical officials and witnesses said, while more than 100 others were killed. been injured.
Source: France 24