Israeli troops have shot dead at least five Palestinians across the occupied West Bank after intense clashes that erupted in at least four towns following overnight arrest raids.
According to official Palestinian news agency Wafa, military forces stormed the northern town of Burqin near al-Quds in the predawn hours of Sunday, and surrounded a home before breaking in and detaining its owner. The detainee was identified as Mohammad Zir'ini.
The raid prompted skirmishes between angry town residents and Israeli troops who fired live rounds, killing two protesters and injuring at least four others.
One of the two Palestinian victims was identified as 22-year-old Osama Yaser Soboh. The other one is yet to be identified, with his body still in Israeli army custody.
Clashes also erupted shortly after midnight in Kafr Dan village northwest of Jenin as Israeli troops raided the area, detaining at least two Palestinians.
On Saturday night, Israeli undercover forces kidnapped two young Palestinian men from their car in a fuel station near Jenin.
Furthermore, three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces in an attack which targeted a house in the village of Biddu.
Witnesses told Wafa that Israeli army troops surrounded the building and fired gunshots and grenades at it. Loud explosions were heard during the raid.
Mohammad Hleil, spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry, confirmed the killing of three Palestinians. They were identified by their families as Ahmad Zahran, Mahmoud Hmaidan and Zakariya Badwan.
Hamas resistance movement commended the Palestinian victims, pledging that “the blood of the martyrs of al-Quds and Jenin at dawn today will continue to fuel our people’s uprising against the Zionist occupier.”
The movement hit out at the Palestinian Authority (PA), saying its policy of coordinating with Israel to crack down on resistance groups in the West Bank had led to the raids.
“The death of today’s martyrs is the consequence of ongoing security coordination with the Zionist occupation. It is the fruit of normalization meetings which PA leaders held with Zionist ministers and Knesset members in Ramallah,” Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said.
Israeli army spokesperson Ran Kochav said the military believed that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad would likely retaliate against the deaths and arrests of the Palestinians with rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Tensions have been rising in the occupied territories following the heroic escape of six Palestinian prisoners from high-security Gilboa Prison earlier this month.
They tunneled their way out through their cell’s drainage system, dealing a serious blow to Israel's image through bringing the condition of Palestinian prisoners to international attention even though they were rearrested later.