JERUSALEM -- In one of the most violent clashes in years between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, Israeli security forces killed three Palestinians early Monday during a raid at the Qalandia refugee camp near Jerusalem.
Palestinian medical officials said two others were in critical condition and 19 were wounded. All were shot in the chest and upper body, according to doctors at Ramallah Hospital.
Israeli border police and soldiers entered the camp before dawn to make an arrest, prompting hundreds of Palestinians to riot against the operation by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
“There were large-scale disturbances to stop the operation,’’ Rosenfeld said. “In a life-threatening situation, officers must use whatever means they have to ensure their safety.”
It remained unclear which security forces used live ammunition. Rosenfeld said border police used only riot-control means.
Officials of the Israel Defense Forces had no immediate comment on the incident.
Palestinian witnesses said an undercover Israeli unit entered the camp at 3 a.m. and attempted to arrest a Fatah militant who had recently been released from an Israeli prison. When camp residents began to attack members of the undercover unit, soldiers arrived to rescue them.
Deadly clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian youths in Jerusalem and the West Bank rose sharply this year, with more than a dozen Palestinians killed so far in 2013, Palestinians say.
In recent years, deadly confrontations have rarely resulted in the kind of multiple deaths seen Monday.
In a similar clash last week, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man in the Jenin refugee camp after a riot erupted when the army entered to camp to arrest a suspected militant.
Times correspondent Abukhater reported from Ramallah.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times