Israeli Army Mounts Rare Raid into Palestinian City of Ramallah, Clashes Ensue

TOPSHOT - This picture shows a battery of Israel's Iron Dome air defense system in the southern city of Ashdod on May 13, 2023.(Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
TOPSHOT - This picture shows a battery of Israel's Iron Dome air defense system in the southern city of Ashdod on May 13, 2023.(Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
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Israeli Army Mounts Rare Raid into Palestinian City of Ramallah, Clashes Ensue

TOPSHOT - This picture shows a battery of Israel's Iron Dome air defense system in the southern city of Ashdod on May 13, 2023.(Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
TOPSHOT - This picture shows a battery of Israel's Iron Dome air defense system in the southern city of Ashdod on May 13, 2023.(Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Clashes erupted after Israeli forces mounted a rare raid into the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank early on Thursday, in what the military said was an operation to demolish the house of an assailant.

A Reuters witness said a large military convoy arrived in downtown Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, leading hundreds of Palestinians to gather in the area.

Some Palestinian youth hurled stones at the Israeli forces, who fired live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd, the witness said. Trash bins that were set on fire blocked roads as ambulance sirens wailed.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least six people were transferred to hospital for treatment, including three who sustained gunshot wounds.

The Israeli military said its forces were operating in Ramallah "to demolish the residence of the terrorist who carried out the bombing attack in Jerusalem last November".

The twin blasts killed two people, including an Israeli-Canadian teenager, and wounded at least 14 others in what police said were explosions of improvised bombs that were planted at bus stops near the city exit and in a junction leading to a settlement.

"The demolition of the homes of fighters is a collective punishment that falls under the war crimes committed by the occupation against our people," said Abdel Fattah Dola of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.

Israel has said the policy of demolishing homes of perpetrators is both punitive and a deterrence to potential attackers.

Hours earlier the US envoy to Palestinians, Hady Amr, met with senior Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh.

Violence in the West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has risen during the past year. Israel has intensified its military raids amid a spate of street attacks carried out by Palestinians in its cities.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 158 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since January. Israel's foreign ministry said 20 Israelis and two foreign nationals have been killed in Palestinian attacks in the same period.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.