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Nine Palestinians, two Israelis killed in West Bank violence

People look at a pool of blood where one six Palestinians was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin, the occupied West Bank
— Jenin (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

An air strike, gunfire and explosives across the West Bank killed at least nine Palestinians and two Israelis on Sunday, officials on both sides said as violence surges in the occupied territory.

Seven Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike in the area of Jenin refugee camp, a militant stronghold in the northern West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israeli police said an officer was killed when her "vehicle... was hit by an explosive device" during a raid on the camp, adding that three other officers were wounded.

In a separate incident, Israeli police officers responding to a car-ramming attack at a checkpoint shot a Palestinian girl, with medics confirming the three-year-old had died.

A van driver swerved into officers at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, prompting them to open fire.

"As a result of shooting at the terrorists, a girl who was in another vehicle at the checkpoint was hurt," police said.

Israel's emergency medical agency Magen David Adom said a three-year-old "was pronounced deceased" after an examination.

In Abwein village north of Ramallah, the Palestinian health ministry said a man was killed by Israeli army fire. There was no comment from the military.

Israeli forces carry out regular raids in the occupied West Bank, often triggering gun battles

Elsewhere in the Ramallah area, an Israeli civilian was shot dead by an unidentified assailant, according to the army, which said forces were searching for the suspect.

Violence in the West Bank has surged to levels unseen in nearly two decades since October 7, when attacks on Israel by Palestinian armed group Hamas sparked all-out war, still raging in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces carry out regular raids in the occupied territory including Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp, often triggering gun battles between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces.

- 'Unbelievable scene' -

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported early Sunday a major deployment of Israeli forces in Jenin.

It said an "Israeli drone strike" killed six people including four brothers. A seventh person later died from wounds.

The Israeli army, which until several months ago had rarely struck the West Bank from the air, said "six terrorists were killed when an aircraft struck a terrorist who hurled explosive devices" at troops during an operation in Jenin refugee camp.

Blood stains remain near the spot where an explosive device killed an Israeli officer during an Israeli raid in Jenin, the occupied West Bank

Suleiman Moussa, a resident of Jenin, said the air strike followed sounds of gunfire.

"We came here and saw people thrown to the ground ... (and) some body parts," Moussa told AFP.

"It was an unbelievable scene and we didn't know what to do."

AFP footage from the site of the strike near the camp showed residents inspecting patches of blood and splintered glass on a pavement.

Mourners gathered later on Sunday for the funeral of the four brothers.

The Israeli army says its frequent raids target "terrorists", but the Palestinian health ministry say they often kill civilians.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, Israeli forces and settler attacks have killed at least 330 Palestinians in the West Bank, according to the health ministry.

During 2023, the ministry counted more than 520 Palestinian deaths in across the West Bank in violence related to the conflict.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967.

About three million Palestinians live in the territory along with 490,000 Israelis, who live in settlements deemed illegal under international law.

Palestinian militant attacks in Israel and the West Bank, meanwhile, killed at least 41 people in 2023, according to Israel's Shin Bet security agency.