Palestinians protest and take strike action in West Bank after killing of Saleh Al Arouri

Israeli forces raid Tulkarm and continue to pummel Gaza Strip with air strikes

A Palestinian man is searched on Wednesday in the Old City of Jerusalem, where tensions are mounting after the killing of a senior Hamas official. AFP
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Palestinians were protesting in the streets of the occupied West Bank on Wednesday after the killing of senior Hamas official Saleh Al Arouri by an Israeli drone strike.

Hundreds took to the streets of Ramallah, where they chanted for "revenge".

In Jerusalem, shops closed their doors in response to calls for a general strike to protest against Mr Al Arouri's killing in a suburb of Beirut on Tuesday.

Shops were also shut in Ramallah, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

As deputy head of the militant group's political bureau, Mr Al Arouri is the most senior Hamas official to have been killed by Israel since the assault on Gaza began on October 7.

Tensions were high in Jerusalem as hundreds of Israeli settlers entered the Al Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of police, sources in the city said.

Wafa quoted witnesses as saying dozens of settlers entered the compound in groups, where they conducted "provocative" tours through the courtyards of the mosque and performed Talmudic rituals near the Dome of the Rock.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli forces raided Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm in a 10-hour operation, during which the site's entrances were closed off. The Israeli army reportedly exchanged gunfire with militants based in the camp.

Wafa posted photos online, showing damage to roads in Nur Shams and said dozens of homes were stormed, with civilians arrested and beaten by Israeli forces.

The Palestinian Red Crescent also said it responded to three incidents in Nur Shams camp, Wafa reported.

"Occupation forces took the detainees to the courtyard of a tile factory opposite the camp and detained them after tying them, blindfolding them and interrogating them on the ground," a Wafa journalist said. "The number of detainees has not yet been determined."

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes

The raids in the West Bank came as Israel showed no sign of relenting in its bombardment of the southern and central Gaza Strip.

At least 128 people were killed and 261 injured across Tuesday and Wednesday in several attacks on Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

The latest wave of attacks brought the death toll in Gaza to 22,313 people, with 57,296 injured, since the war began, the ministry said.

Air strikes hit the southern city of Khan Younis and Al Nusseirat camp in central Gaza.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, in central Gaza, had received at least 40 dead and 98 injured by midnight on Tuesday, medical sources told The National.

In Al Nusseirat, Israeli warplanes struck a building housing dozens of people, according to Abu Rami Al Assar, who survived the attack.

“There were around 40 residents inside the building – they were preparing to eat their lunch,” he told The National.

“I don’t know how many were killed and how many are under the rubble.”

He said the building's residents included a family that had fled fighting in other parts of Gaza.

Mr Al Assar said the attack was carried out without any warning, contrary to Israeli military procedure to alert inhabitants before hitting civilian structures.

Israel had dropped leaflets on Al Nusseirat ordering people to leave seven districts, reported Reuters.

"You are in a dangerous combat area. The Israeli forces are operating heavily in your area of residence. For your safety the IDF urge you to immediately evacuate this area and leave towards the known shelters in Deir Al Balah (west)," the leaflets said.

Video footage published by news outlet Al Quds Feed on Wednesday showed people evacuating Al Nusseirat camp by foot or on carts drawn by donkeys.

Conditions in the camp have deteriorated since winter rain turned the ground to mud, while Israeli shelling has destroyed much of the infrastructure.

The Israeli military said in its daily briefing "intensive battles" with militants were continuing in Khan Younis in the south.

Israel has previously said Hamas leaders are hiding in the area.

Air strikes also hit targets near Rafah, also in southern Gaza.

The home of the Al Nahhal family in the area of Kharbat Al Adas, near Rafah, was hit by a strike, Palestinian news outlets reported. They said three people were killed, with another 10 injured and taken to Abu Yusuf Al Najjar Hospital.

On Tuesday, Health Ministry spokesman Dr Ashraf Al Qudra said 207 people were killed and 338 injured in Israeli attacks over the previous 24 hours.

Updated: January 03, 2024, 12:51 PM