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Israeli troops kill six Palestinians in Jenin as West Bank violence escalates

A few hours only after settlers rioted again in the village of Huwara, Israeli soldiers raided the West Bank city of Jenin, killing six people, including the assailant who murdered a week ago Israeli brothers Halel and Yagel Yaniv.

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported Tuesday afternoon that six people were killed in the West Bank city of Jenin during an IDF raid. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Israel was responsible for the consequences of the operation. 

Israeli authorities confirmed that one of the people targeted and killed in the Jenin raid was Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, who allegedly murdered Israeli brothers Halel and Yagel Yaniv on Feb. 26. The two were driving through the West Bank village of Huwara when an assailant shot them both at close range. Israeli authorities added that two police officers of the special commando unit were injured during the Jenin operation. Three children of Hussein Kharousha were detained by Israeli security forces in another raid in Nablus on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video congratulating the Israeli security forces who “eliminated the despicable terrorist who murdered the two brothers in cold blood,” adding, “Whoever harms us, on his own head be it.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Monday night in Washington with Israel's national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer. According to the State Department, Blinken "expressed concern regarding the continuing violence in Israel and the West Bank and emphasized the need for all parties to take steps to restore calm and de-escalate tensions."

Israeli settlers clashed on Monday evening with Palestinians in the West Bank village of Huwara a week after settlers vandalized homes and property there. Israeli news outlets cited Palestinian sources as saying that at least four Palestinians were hurt.

Monday night’s events are still unclear, as both sides blame each other for attacking the other. Israeli settlers claim that local residents threw stones at their cars as they passed through, while Palestinians claim that settlers threw stones at vehicles and storefronts in the village. A report by the nongovernmental organization Yesh Din holds that settlers shot at the vehicle of a Palestinian family, smashing the windshield and pepper spraying the passengers, injuring a child.

A statement by the Israeli army read that “a number of gatherings developed” in Huwara village on Monday evening, with some “violent friction between Palestinians and Israeli citizens” and that the “IDF and Border Police forces acted to disperse the incidents using riot dispersal means."

Yesh Din claimed that the Israeli soldiers did not act to stop the settlers from attacking the Palestinian car, but did use riot dispersal measures to scatter the Palestinians who gathered at the scene to push back the settlers.

In another incident in Huwara Monday night, Israeli soldiers were filmed dancing with settlers. The video, posted on social media, shows settlers celebrating the Purim holiday in Huwara in the middle of a street, with some soldiers joining them in a dance and clapping hands. The Israeli army said it was investigating the incident. A statement by IDF media office said the conduct of the soldiers in the video was “not consistent with what is expected of fighters in operational activity.” Huwara's mayor told Ynet that settlers paraded through the village Monday evening to celebrate the Purim holiday and were dancing with IDF soldiers as others attacked people and property. 

Huwara has become a hotspot of clashes between settlers and local Palestinians since the killing of the Yaniv brothers. Shortly after the attack, settlers stormed the village, traumatizing local residents, burning down 35 homes and damaging dozens of other houses, shopfronts and cars. With tensions running high, IDF troops have been stationed in the village through the week.

The IDF arrested several suspects after the Huwara rampage, but most were released on Thursday by court order. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed off on orders keeping two settlers in administrative detention. On Monday, the court reduced their administrative detention period from four to two months. Israel holds close to 1,000 Palestinians in administrative detention, meaning without charges or a set trial date. Less than 10 Israeli Jews are detained similarly.

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