NABLUS: Israeli troops martyred 11 Palestinians Wednesday in a raid on the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, while more than 80 suffered gunshot wounds, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The Israeli army said the raid targeted suspects “in a hideout apartment” accused of shootings in the West Bank. It added troops came under live fire but suffered no casualties.
Top Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh decried the incursion as a “massacre” and called for “international protection for our people”.
The death toll is equal to that of an Israeli army raid last month in Jenin, further north, which was the deadliest West Bank operation since at least 2005.
The Israeli military said that one of the suspects was shot while fleeing, while the two others were targeted at the property.
The suspects and Israeli forces “exchanged fire and at some point, we upgraded our efforts. There were also rockets that were fired on the house” by the army, spokesman Richard Hecht told journalists.
Rocks, explosive devices and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the troops, an earlier army statement said.
The Palestinian health ministry said those martyred “as a result of the occupation’s aggression on Nablus” were aged between 16 and 72.
A further 82 people were admitted to multiple hospitals with gunshot wounds, Palestinian health officials said.
Mostafa Shaheen, a Nablus resident, said he was surprised to hear explosions at around 9:30 am (0730 GMT).
“A large number of soldiers stormed the area and besieged the whole area,” he told AFP. “We kept hearing the explosions and gunfire.”
Huge crowds gathered outside Nablus’s Rafidia hospital, waiting for news of dozens of casualties being treated at the facility.
The wounded include Palestine TV journalist Mohammed Al-Khatib, who was shot in the hand, his colleague told AFP.
The Islamic Jihad group said one of its commanders was killed “in a heroic battle against the Israeli occupation army and its special forces”.
The Lions’ Den, a local band of fighters, said six of those martyred belonged to various factions.
Troops withdrew from the city after three hours, an AFP journalist said.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said its medics had treated 250 cases of tear gas inhalation and dozens of gunshot wounds.
The Arab League said the raid amounted to a “heinous crime”.
“The occupation authorities and the far-right Israeli government are responsible for this horrible massacre,” said Saeed Abu Ali, the Arab League’s assistant secretary-general for Palestinian affairs.