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More than 14 killed as violence flares in West Bank

Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians during a raid in the occupied West Bank, while an ambulance driver was killed as he went to pick up wounded from a separate attack by Jewish settlers, Palestinian authorities said.

Israeli forces began an extended raid in the early hours of Friday in the Nur Shams area, near the flashpoint Palestinian city of Tulkarm and were still exchanging fire with armed fighters well into yesterday.

Israeli military vehicles massed and bursts of gunfire were heard, while at least three drones were seen hovering above Nur Shams.

The Tulkarm Brigades, which groups forces from numerous Palestinian factions, said its fighters exchanged fire with Israeli.

The West Bank, a kidney shaped area about 100km long and 50km wide, has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since it was seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israeli forces carried out a series of raids in the West Bank

The Gaza war has overshadowed continuing violence in the territory, including regular army raids on militant groups, attacks by Jewish settlers in Palestinian villages, and street attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.

Thousands of Palestinians have been arrested and hundreds killed during regular operations by Israeli army and police since the start of the Gaza war, most members of armed groups, but also stone-throwing youths and uninvolved civilians.

Yesterday, Palestinian health authorities said at least 14 people, two of whom were identified by Palestinian sources and officials as a gunman and a 16 year-old boy, were killed during the raid, one of the heaviest casualty totals in the West Bank in months. Another man was killed on Friday.

The Israeli military said a number of militants were killed or arrested during the raid, and at least four soldiers were wounded in exchanges of fire.

In a separate incident, the Palestinian health ministry said a 50-year-old ambulance driver was killed by Israeli gunfire near the village of Al-Sawiya, south of the city of Nablus, as he was making his way to transport people injured during the attack on the village.

It was not immediately clear whether he was shot by settlers. There was no immediate comment from the military.

In Gaza, where fighting has continued despite the withdrawal of most of Israel’s combat forces earlier this month from southern areas, the death toll passed 34,000, Palestinian health authorities said.

People walk amidst the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City

Israeli strikes hit the southern city of Rafah, where over one million people are sheltering, as well as Al-Nuseirat in central Gaza, where at least five houses were destroyed, and the Al-Jabalia area in the north, health officials and Hamas media said.

In Rafah, a strike hit a house and killed three people, including a pregnant woman, Hamas and Palestinian media outlets said. Doctors at the Kuwaiti hospital were able to save the baby, medics said, making the baby the family’s only surviving member.

Five other Palestinians were killed in a separate Israeli air strike on the city before midnight, health officials said.

The Israeli military said troops were carrying out raids in central Gaza, where they were engaged in close quarter combat with Palestinian fighters.

Rafah is the last Gaza area that Israeli ground forces have not entered in a more than six-month war aimed at eliminating the Islamist Hamas group that rules the territory, following the Hamas attack on southern Israel on 7 October, that killed around 1,200 people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced wide international opposition to the plan to attack Rafah, where the military says the last remaining organised brigades of Hamas are located and where the remaining 133 Israeli hostages are believed to be held.


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