Two men shot dead in Israeli raids on West Bank refugee camps

Fatal shootings took place at overcrowded Nablus and Qalandiya sites

Israeli soldiers keep position during a military operation in the Palestinian town of Silwad, in the occupied West Bank. AFP
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Two Palestinians were shot dead during Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Overnight violence was reported at Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, and at Qalandiya camp, near Jerusalem.

The Israeli military said it had detained six “wanted” Palestinians and seized some weapons but did not comment on the men’s deaths, except to say they were aware of claimed fatalities.

The ministry said Samer Khaled, 25, died after being shot in the neck in Balata, while Yazan Afana, 26, was shot in the heart at Qalandiya.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said Khaled was killed when Israel soldiers stormed the refugee camp in the northern West Bank.

Balata is one of the oldest camps in the occupied West Bank, originally built to house 5,000 people, but where numbers have swelled to more than 50,000, leading to crumbling services and severe overcrowding, the United Nations says. The UN also describes the also overcrowded Qalandiya as being subject to frequent Israeli army raids.

The Israeli military statement said that in Balata, soldiers responded to gunfire and in the town of Al Bireh near Ramallah, soldiers responded with dispersal measures to "violent riots", in which rocks and Molotov cocktails were hurled at them.

On Tuesday, four Palestinians and two Israelis were injured in separate incidents near Nablus, the scene of recurrent violence in recent months.

The Israeli military has been conducting near-daily raids in the West Bank since the start of the year, often leading to Palestinian deaths. The raids have intensified in recent months since a spate of deadly Arab street attacks in Israel.

Israel says the raids are a security measure targeting suspected militants. Many Palestinians consider the actions a form of collective punishment and say they are fighting against decades of Israeli occupation.

Updated: September 01, 2022, 11:30 AM