Israel conducts more West Bank raids as UN warns violence is worst in years

Israeli forces arrest 12 people in latest operations amid surge in settler attacks

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Israel said on Friday it conducted more raids and arrests in the occupied West Bank, a day after the UN criticised the increasing violence in the area.

The Israeli military said it detained 12 people, including two it claimed were associated with Hamas. Israel has arrested about 2,550 people in the West Bank since the outbreak of the Gaza war, the military said

But the UN has said the figure is much higher, reporting the detention of 4,785 Palestinians.

On Thursday, the UAE called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the deteriorating situation in the West Bank.

Shahad Matar, spokeswoman for the UAE mission to the UN, said settler violence and frequent Israeli raids put the "political horizon" for Palestine and Israel "at severe risk".

Dozens of people were injured by Israeli security forces while trying to enter Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for Friday prayers, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported. It said tear gas and rubber-coated bullets were used.

Israel has imposed restrictions on who can enter Al Aqsa following the start of the war on October 7.

On Thursday, Israel announced it conducted overnight raids on money exchange offices in West Bank cities including Ramallah, in what authorities said was a bid to curb funding for Hamas.

It came after six people were killed by Israeli air strikes on the Nur Shams refugee camp, near the northern Gazan town of Tulkarem.

More than 300 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since the war began, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. More than 21,500 people have been killed in Gaza, nearly half of them children.

The UN humanitarian affairs office on Thursday described a sharp increase in the number of air strikes on the West Bank since October 7, while violence by the Israeli military and settlers against Palestinians has soared.

The deaths of 300 Palestinians, including 79 children, have been verified in the occupied West Bank between October 7 and December 27, the UN Human Rights Office said. At least 291 of those were killed by Israel forces and eight were killed by settlers. The remaining one person was killed by either soldiers or settlers, said the UN.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said the violence repeated "the pattern and nature of violations reported in the past in the context of the long-standing Israeli occupation of the West Bank".

“However, the intensity of the violence and repression is something that has not been seen in years," he added.

Updated: December 29, 2023, 2:19 PM