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Israel, Gaza trade overnight fire after West Bank deadly clashes

Palestinian factions fired rockets toward Israel after Thursday's West Bank raid that killed 9, in latest escalation and ahead of US secretary of state’s visit to the region.
Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israel launched airstrikes, Gaza Strip, early on Jan. 27, 2023.

Palestinian militants fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel on Friday morning in response to the latest flare-up in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

Sirens were activated but the rockets were intercepted by Israeli missile defenses.

Israel carried out strikes in Gaza in retaliation but no casualties were reported on either side.

According to Reuters, during Thursday’s Jenin raid, Islamic Jihad counted two deaths in its ranks and four from Hamas. "We consider that security coordination with the Israeli occupation government no longer exists as of now," the Palestinian leadership was quoted as saying.

Thursday’s raid led to the largest single death toll that the West Bank has seen in years of fighting.

This critical situation has been in the making for months, following escalating tensions and clashes in the West Bank between Palestinians and Israeli forces. Both Hamas, the de facto authority in Gaza and Islamic Jihad promised to retaliate over the ongoing events in the West Bank. No claim of responsibility was made for Friday’s rockets.

A senior Israeli officer was quoted by the media as saying that Israeli forces are “ready and prepared for any scenario,” following the raid, referring to further potential escalation in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.  

Confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis have been on a steady rise in the West Bank in the last few weeks.

The rising tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis led to United Nations emergency sessions, heated debates and delegations to visit the Holy Land.

Why it matters: These developments cast a shadow on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the region on Monday in a tour to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank, where discussions on the situation will be held.

The United States called on Thursday for a de-escalation following the latest clashes in Jenin. According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa and the US State Department, nine Palestinians were killed and 20 injured in Jenin on Thursday.  

State Department spokesperson Ned Price called for a de-escation of the situation in a tweet in the early hours of Friday morning.

The United Arab Emirates, China and France have called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting behind closed doors on Friday.

Know more: Arab and Gulf countries have voiced their renewed support for the two-state solution, the revival of the peace process and maintenance of the status quo at Al-Aqsa.

Bilateral meetings have been taking place between regional leaders emphasizing such support, the last of which was between Jordanian King Abdullah and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.  

Tor Wennesland, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said on Twitter that the UN also reaffirms its support to the two-state solution.

As Al-Monitor reported, during his visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, Blinken will meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas announced a halt in security coordination with Israel on Thursday. 

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf called the decision a mistake and urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to reverse it. 

The PA has limited control over areas in the West Bank, and none over the Jenin camp, where groups such as the Islamic Jihad have a major foothold.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, roughly 30 Palestinians, gunmen and civilians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since January.

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