Israel conducts military operation in the area of the West Bank city of Jenin; 5 Palestinians killed

Published 8:10 am Friday, July 5, 2024

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JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Friday it was conducting counterterrorism activity that included an airstrike in the area of the West Bank city of Jenin. Palestinian authorities said five people were killed.

The military said Israeli soldiers had “encircled a building where terrorists have barricaded themselves in” and the soldiers were exchanging fire, while an airstrike had “struck several armed terrorists” in the area.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said five people died but did not provide any information on their identities. No further details were immediately available from either side.

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The clashes in Jenin, a known militant stronghold where the army frequently operates, came a day after an Israeli anti-settlement monitoring group said the government plans to build nearly 5,300 new homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The construction plans revealed by the Peace Now group are part of the hard-line government’s efforts to beef up settlements as part of a strategy of cementing Israel’s control over the West Bank to prevent a future Palestinian state. The Palestinians seek the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — for an independent state.

Violence has spiraled in the West Bank since the start of Israel’s war in Gaza, sparked by the Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel by Hamas militants who killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took more than 200 others as hostages. The war has so far killed more than 38,000 Palestinians, Gaza’s Health Ministry says. The ministry does not differentiate between combatants and civilians in its count, but it includes thousands of women and children.

Cease-fire talks appeared to be reviving after stalling for weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Thursday he was sending negotiators to resume the talks, a day after Hamas handed mediators its latest response to a U.S.-backed proposal for a deal.

The revival of negotiations appeared to mark another attempt by U.S., Qatari and Egyptian mediators to overcome the gap that has repeatedly thwarted a deal over the past months. Hamas wants an agreement that ensures Israeli troops fully leave Gaza and the war ends, while Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eliminated.

Israeli negotiators are expected to arrive in Doha, Qatar’s capital, for the talks as early as Friday, with American, Egyptian and Qatari officials present.