Israeli troops kill 5 Palestinian gunmen in a raid in the West Bank, officials say

Palestinian protesters blocking road with burning tires
Palestinian protesters block a main road with burning tires in the West Bank city of Jericho on Monday.
(Nasser Nasser / Associated Press)

Israeli forces killed five Palestinian gunmen linked to the Islamic militant Hamas group in a raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Monday, the latest bloodshed in the region that will likely further exacerbate tensions.

The Palestinian president’s office called the violence a crime, urging the United States to pressure Israel to hold back on its incursions. The Israeli military said the raid was meant to apprehend a militant cell that staged a botched shooting attack on a restaurant in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The violence comes amid one of the deadliest periods in recent years in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the first weeks of Israel’s new government — its most right-wing ever — under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has promised to take a tough stance against the Palestinians.


The Israeli military said it was operating in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp to apprehend the suspects behind the failed shooting attack last month, during which the attackers allegedly were thwarted by a weapon malfunction. The attackers then fled the scene, the military said, adding that they were members of the Hamas militant group that rules the Gaza Strip and has elements in the West Bank as well.

The military said the militants behind the shooting had sealed themselves inside a home in the refugee camp. During their search, troops encountered the gunmen and a gun battle erupted. The military said some of the gunmen who were killed were involved in the alleged attempted attack on the restaurant.

“The new Israeli government is continuing its series of crimes against our Palestinian people,” a statement from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ office said.

The number of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank now exceeds 500,000, with advocates predicting faster growth under Israel’s new government.

Feb. 2, 2023

In Aqabat Jabr, bullets were strewn across a blood-streaked floor at the scene of the gunfight. Bullet marks pocked a door, and glass shards from a broken window littered the ground.

Jihad Abu Assal, the governor of the West Bank city of Jericho and the Jordan Valley, said the Israeli military was holding on to the gunmen’s bodies. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed that five Palestinians had been killed.

Speaking at an event at the site of a recent deadly Palestinian shooting attack, Netanyahu confirmed earlier reports by Israeli security officials that five gunmen were killed.


Hamas said all five of the dead were members of its armed wing. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the violence would be met with a response.

“Our people and their resistance will not delay in responding to this crime,” he said.

Residents and activists say the Israeli military has demolished homes, water tanks and olive orchards in two Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank.

Jan. 4, 2023

The raid comes days after an earlier Israeli incursion into the Aqabat Jabr camp, which is near the Palestinian city of Jericho, a desert oasis in an area of the West Bank that rarely sees such unrest.

Since the shooting attack at the nearby restaurant, the Israeli military has blocked access to several roads into Jericho — a closure that has placed the city under a semi-blockade, disrupting business and creating hours-long bottlenecks at checkpoints that affected even Palestinian security forces, video showed.

Monday’s violence comes days after an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp killed 10 Palestinians, mostly militants but also a 61-year-old woman. The next day, a Palestinian shooting attack outside an East Jerusalem synagogue killed seven people, including a 14-year-old.

The Israeli army has ramped up near-nightly raids in the occupied West Bank since a series of deadly Palestinian attacks within Israel last spring. Over the last year of escalating raids, Jericho has remained a sort of sleepy desert town, spared much of the violence.

The Palestinian Authority, in retaliation for last week’s raid on the Jenin refugee camp, declared a halt to security coordination with Israel.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004, according to figures by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Since the start of this year, 41 Palestinians have been killed in those territories. Some 30 people were killed in Israel by Palestinians in 2022.