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Israeli forces raided a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank early Thursday, setting off a gun battle in which two Palestinians were killed and more than a dozen were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
In a separate incident, a 28-year-old man was stabbed and moderately wounded at a West Bank junction, according to the Magen David Adom emergency service. The Israeli military said the assailant had been “neutralized,” without providing further details.
Videos circulated online showed smoke rising from the center of the Jenin refugee camp as gunfire echoed in the background. Others appeared to show Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen moving through the narrow streets.
The raid came two days after a Palestinian from a village near Jenin shot and killed five people in central Israel, part of a wave of attacks in recent days that have left a total of 11 people dead.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 17-year-old and a 23-year-old were killed and another 15 were wounded.
The Israeli military said troops came under fire after entering Jenin to arrest suspects. It said one soldier was wounded and evacuated to a hospital for treatment.
The Jenin refugee camp was the scene of one of the deadliest battles of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising. In April 2002, Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants in the camp, leading to the deaths of 23 Israeli soldiers and more than 50 Palestinians.
In recent years the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank, has appeared to have little control over Jenin. Israeli forces operating in and around the city and refugee camp often come under fire.
In Tuesday’s attack, a 27-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank village of Yabad, near Jenin, methodically gunned down victims, killing five. On Sunday night, a shooting attack by two Islamic State sympathizers in the central city of Hadera killed two police officers. Last week, a combined car-ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba — also by an attacker inspired by IS — killed four. The two attacks claimed by IS were carried out by Arab citizens of Israel.
The recent wave of violence has brought the Palestinian issue back to the fore at a time when Israel is focused on building alliances with Arab states against Iran. There have been no serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in more than a decade, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is opposed to Palestinian statehood.
Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders have held a flurry of meetings in recent weeks, and Israel has announced a series of goodwill gestures, in an effort to maintain calm ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins this weekend.
They hope to avoid a repeat of last year, when clashes in Jerusalem set off an 11-day Gaza war, but the recent attacks have sent tensions soaring. After a Security Cabinet meeting late Wednesday, Israel nevertheless decided to carry on with plans to ease restrictions on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians want for a future state. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally. In the West Bank, it is steadily building and expanding Jewish settlements, which most of the internationally community views as illegal.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized power there two years later. Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on the territory, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians.
Associated Press reporters Areej Hazboun and Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem contributed to this report.