Six Palestinians shot during Israeli raid on camp near Jericho

UN rights chief calls on both sides to avoid escalation and voices concern over new Israeli government's actions

Palestinians run from teargas fired by Israeli forces during a raid on the Aqabat Jabr camp near Jericho in the occupied West Bank. AP
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Six Palestinians were injured during an exchange of gunfire as Israeli troops raided a camp near the city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank on Saturday.

The Israeli army said it entered the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp south-west of Jericho to search for suspects involved in a shooting last week at a nearby Israeli settlement.

An army bulldozer knocked down a home where some of the suspects were believed to be hiding, forcing the occupants out.

Separately, Palestinian media reported on Sunday that Israeli forces "stormed the town of Arraba and arrested Khader Adnan, an ex-Palestinian prisoner, after raiding his home and terrorising his family". Israel says Mr Adnan is a prominent member of West Bank militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Clashes as Israeli forces raid West Bank refugee camp

Clashes as Israeli forces raid West Bank refugee camp

Protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at military Jeeps as they rumbled down the streets in the camp, while some gunmen opened fire. The Israeli military fired back, wounding six people, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

It said two of the people shot suffered serious injuries but neither was in critical condition.

The raid came a day after the UN's human rights chief expressed concerns that steps taken by the new Israeli government, the most far-right in the country’s history, could fuel further breaches of human rights and humanitarian law after a recent spike in bloodshed in the region.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk cited steps such as forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes and government moves to expedite Israelis’ access to firearms. He called on leaders, officials and all on both sides to stop using language that incites hatred, and to shun violence.

“Rather than doubling down on failed approaches of violence and coercion that have singularly failed in the past, I urge everyone involved to step out of the illogic of escalation that has only ended in dead bodies, shattered lives and utter despair,” said Mr Turk, who took office in October.

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador in Geneva, accused the rights office of condemning a “legitimate response” by her country — instead of condemning “heinous terrorist attacks” against Jewish worshippers and Israeli civilians.

The region is facing one of the deadliest periods of conflict in years.

An Israeli military raid last week killed 10 Palestinians — most of them militants — and a 61-year-old woman.

A day later, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside an East Jerusalem synagogue, including a 14-year-old worshipper. That was followed by another shooting in East Jerusalem in which a 13-year-old Palestinian wounded two Israelis.

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, responded by taking steps to demolish the home of the gunman and other Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem built without permits, and called for granting more gun licences to Israelis.

“I fear that recent measures being taken by the government of Israel are only fuelling further violations and abuses of human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law,” Mr Turk said.

Such laws prohibit “collective punishment”, including forced evictions and demolition of homes, he said.

The UN Office for the Co-ordinator of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Friday that Israeli authorities demolished, confiscated, or forced people to demolish 88 Palestinian-owned structures in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank between January 10 and 30.

A total of 31 Palestinians were killed during the same period, it said.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making it the deadliest in those areas since 2004, according to figures by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. About 30 people were killed in Israel by Palestinians in 2022.

The Israeli army said most of the Palestinians killed were militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting against the Israeli incursions and others not involved in confrontations have been killed.

With reporting from Associated Press

Updated: February 05, 2023, 5:22 PM