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Deadliest Israel army raid in years kills 14 in West Bank city

A child watches smoke rising from the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp, during clashes after an Israeli raid
— Jenin (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Israeli forces on Thursday killed 18 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, the territory's health ministry said, most of them shot dead during an army raid on Jenin.

AFP journalists saw black smoke rising over the city of Jenin, a militant stronghold in the northern West Bank, and heard multiple explosions and gunfire.

The health ministry said in a statement 14 Palestinians were killed in Jenin -- the highest West Bank death toll from a single Israeli raid since 2005, according to United Nations records.

Israel's military said soldiers and other security forces killed "several terrorists" with a drone strike and others in gunfights.

Israeli forces seized weapons and destroyed a "tunnel shaft containing ready-to-use explosive devices", a military statement said.

An AFP journalist saw one militant who had been shot lying on the ground, as another man fired the wounded person's gun.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said one of its paramedics was shot in the back when an "ambulance was targeted" during the raid.

Separately, four Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces elsewhere in the West Bank, the health ministry said.

There was no immediate comment from the army on the deaths reported by the ministry in Balata refugee camp near Nablus, Al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah and Beit Fajar and Dura in the southern West Bank.

- Sweeping arrests -

Israeli forces in Jenin have killed dozens of Palestinians in recent months, particularly in the city's refugee camp where armed groups are present alongside tens of thousands of residents.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and its troops regularly launch raids across the Palestinian territory.

Since war erupted on October 7 between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces have arrested more than 2,000 people across the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club advocacy group.

The Israeli military has put the figure for the West Bank only at more than 1,400 and said most are affiliated with Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza.

The military said 20 people were detained in Thursday's Jenin raid, including two members of the Islamic Jihad militant group.

At least 180 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed across the West Bank since October 7, according to officials on both sides.

The Gaza war began with attacks on October 7 by Gaza-based Hamas militants, which Israeli officials say killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

Vowing to crush Hamas in response, Israel launched intense air strikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, killing more than 10,800 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.