NOUR SHAMS REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank — Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military raid Sunday in the northern West Bank, Palestinian health officials said, the latest bloodshed in a wave of violence during a sensitive Jewish holiday period.
The Israeli military said it went to the Nour Shams refugee camp near the town of Tulkarem to destroy what it described as a militant command center and a bomb storage facility in a building .
He said engineering units detonated a number of bombs placed under roads and militants opened fire and threw explosives, while troops responded with live fire.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said two men – Asid Abu Ali, 21, and Abdulrahman Abu Daghash, 32 – were killed by Israeli fire. The raid caused heavy damage to roads and the suspected building.
Israel has been carrying out intensified military raids for the past year and a half, mainly in the northern West Bank, as part of what it sees as a campaign to eliminate Palestinian militants and thwart future attacks.
But Palestinians say the raids reinforce Israel’s 56-year occupation of the West Bank. The raids have shown no signs of slowing the fighting and have contributed to the weakening of the Palestinian Authority, the autonomous government that administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the year, according to an Associated Press tally. Israel says most of those killed were activists, but young people protesting the incursions and others not involved in the clashes were also killed.
At least 31 people have been killed this year in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
Tensions began to spread last week to the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinians demonstrate daily along the fence separating the territory from Israel.
On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit a militant site for the second time in as many days, after Palestinians sent incendiary balloons into Israeli farmland and Palestinian protesters threw stones and explosives at soldiers at the separation barrier.
The peak of violence occurs during the Jewish New Year holiday period. Jews are expected to celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day of their calendar, on Sunday evening, followed by the week-long holiday of Sukkot later in the month.
During Sukkot, large numbers of Jews are expected to visit Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The complex, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque, is often a hotbed of violence.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians are seeking these territories to build their hoped-for independent state.