NABLUS, West Bank (AP) — Israeli troops on Wednesday entered a major Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank in a rare, daytime arrest operation, triggering fighting that killed at least 10 Palestinians and wounded scores of others.
The Israeli military said it entered Nablus on Wednesday to arrest three wanted militants suspected in previous shooting attacks in the West Bank. It said it tracked down the men in a hideout.
The army said it surrounded the building and asked the men to surrender, but instead they opened fire. It said all three were killed in a shootout.
It said that during the raid, armed suspects “shot heavily toward the forces,” which responded with live fire. It said others hurled rocks and explosives at the troops. There were no Israeli casualties. It released photos of what it said were two automatic rifles confiscated in the raid.
The raid, which reduced a building to rubble and left a series of shops riddled with bullets, was one of the bloodiest battles in nearly a year of fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. A 72-year-old man was among the 10 killed and 102 people were wounded, Palestinian officials said.
In the Old City of Nablus, people stared at the rubble that had been a large home in the centuries-old casbah. From one end to the other, shops were riddled with bullets. Parked cars were crushed. Blood stained the cement ruins. Furniture from the destroyed home was scattered among mounds of debris.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said of the 102 people wounded, six were in critical condition. Palestinian militant groups claimed six of the dead as members. But a 72-year-old man was also killed. There was no immediate word on whether the others belonged to armed groups.
At least 55 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, a pace that could exceed last year's death toll. Last year, nearly 150 Palestinians were killed 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.
Israel says that most of those killed have been militants but others — including youths protesting the incursions and other people not involved in confrontations — have also been killed.