Israel kills Hamas commander in West Bank as fighting rages in Gaza Strip

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Hamas's support for a UN-backed ceasefire proposal is hopeful

Palestinians inspect damaged vehicles in Al Faraa refugee camp near Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Reuters
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Israel has killed one of Hamas's top commanders in the occupied West Bank in fierce clashes, while four soldiers were killed in an explosion in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Hamas said Mohammed Jaber Abdo was killed along with three fighters in a village near Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority has its headquarters, a statement read.

A joint statement by the Israeli army and police earlier on Monday said undercover forces had tracked down a Palestinian suspect wanted over an attack on a nearby illegal settlement.

Since the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip started on October 7, violence has increased drastically in the West Bank. More than 530 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since, the Palestinian Health Ministry says.

The development comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday a Hamas statement of support for a UN resolution backing a proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza was a "hopeful sign".

Mr Blinken said communication with the militant group's leadership in Gaza was important.

Conversations on plans for Gaza will continue on Tuesday afternoon and over the coming days, Mr Blinken said.

"It's imperative that we have these plans," he said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu has "reaffirmed his commitment" to a Gaza ceasefire proposal, Mr Blinken said.

Late on Monday, Hamas said it "welcomes" the UN Security Council's vote to adopt a resolution backing the ceasefire plan.

But the militant group, which is locked in fierce fighting with Israel's military in Gaza, insisted its demands must be met, including a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory. Israel, meanwhile, has long-insisted on some form of security control over the enclave.

Mr Blinken said the military approach was not always "sufficient, and there has to be a clear political plan, a clear humanitarian plan to ensure that Hamas does not in any way, shape or form [remain] in control of Gaza and that Israel can move forward toward more enduring security".

Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, civil defence teams recovered dozens of civilians in the Sheikh Radwan and Al Daraj neighbourhoods in Gaza city, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

A search is under way for those missing as their homes were targeted by Israeli warplanes overnight into Tuesday, the agency said.

Nuseirat raid anger

In Nuseirat refugee camp, a number of civilians were killed and others injured in the air strikes, after Israel's rescue operation at the weekend of four hostages held by Hamas, during which at least 274 Palestinians were killed.

Of the weekend Israeli rescue mission, a UN spokesman said on Monday that he was "profoundly shocked at the impact on civilians of the Israeli forces' operation in An Nuseirat."

UN Human Rights office spokesman Jeremy Laurence told reporters at a press conference in Geneva that both Israel and Hamas had committed actions that "may amount to war crimes." His office was "deeply distressed that Palestinian armed groups continue to hold many hostages, most of them civilians".

Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,100 people, Gaza's Health Ministry says.

For months, Palestinians have been facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies.

The UN estimates that more than 1 million people in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Israel launched the war after the Hamas-led attack on October 7, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted about 250.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 1:43 PM