Six Palestinians were killed on Tuesday in new Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank.
In the West Bank’s second-largest city Nablus, Israeli soldiers said they raided a stronghold of an armed group, killing five people and injuring 20.
A sixth Palestinian was fatally shot in the chest in the village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, according to the health ministry.
In Nablus, soldiers blew up an explosives lab, according to Israel, and engaged in a firefight with the Lions’ Den group, who were recently accused of shooting an Israeli soldier. Television footage showed flames and smoke rising in the night sky over Nablus.
Israeli Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, said on public radio that Wadie Houh, a leader of the Lion’s Den group, was killed in a shootout with Israeli troops overnight.
“Israel will never be deterred from acting for the sake of its security,” he added.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, the army said troops fired at a suspect who threw an explosive at them during an arrest raid near the village of Nebi Saleh. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported the death of 19-year-old, Qusai al-Tamimi.
Ongoing Israeli arrest raids in the West Bank pose a serious challenge to the Palestinian self-rule government, which administers just over one-third of the territory.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas relies on security cooperation with Israel, particularly against his Islamic militant rivals, to remain in power. At the same time, this cooperation is deeply unpopular among Palestinians.
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, issued a statement in which he described the Israeli operation in Nablus as a war crime.
More than 125 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year.
The fighting has surged since a series of Palestinian attacks killed 19 people in Israel in the spring.
The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.