Israeli forces kill Palestinian as West Bank raids continue

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian on Wednesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, as Israeli troops continued a days-long operation in the occupied West Bank in response to a series of deadly attacks.

The death is the latest in a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has erupted as Muslims mark the holy month of Ramadan.

The Health Ministry said Muhammad Assaf, 34, was shot in the chest in the West Bank city of Nablus. Details surrounding his death were not immediately available and the Israeli military had no immediate comment. The Palestinian Health Ministry said another 11 people were injured as a result of Israeli military activity in the area.

In a statement, the military only said the forces were “carrying out counter-terrorism operations” in the northern West Bank.

Israel has sent troops to comb through Palestinian towns and villages in recent days, looking for suspects or accomplices linked to recent Palestinian attacks on Israelis. Last week, an armed Palestinian opened fire on a crowded Tel Aviv barkilling three people and fleeing the scene, sparking an hours-long manhunt that culminated in his murder by the police.

That attack, along with three other attacks elsewhere in Israel in recent weeks, killed 14 people, the deadliest bloodshed against Israelis in years.

Tensions have escalated as Muslims mark Ramadan, which this year converges with major Jewish and Christian holidays. Over the coming week, as Passover and Easter begin, tens of thousands of people from all three faiths are expected to flock to the Old City of Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a frequent hotbed of violence.

The Israeli government sought to bring down the flames moving forward with its plan to ease restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the holy month. But, with two of the attackers in recent violence in and around Jenin, Israel has tightened restrictions on movement in and out of the city.

Jenin is considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants. Israeli forces often come under fire when operating in the area. Even the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and coordinates with Israel on security issues, appears to have little control.

Israel has made numerous arrests in its operations in recent days, and in some cases Palestinians have protested the raids. Late Saturday, Palestinian protesters set fire to a West Bank shrine revered by Jews and destroyed part of the tomb inside. On Wednesday, Israel carried out repairs to the site, known to Jews as Joseph’s Tomb, and a day earlier the army said it had arrested a suspect linked to the arson.

Several Palestinians were killed in the raids, or in response to attacks or attempted attacks.

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