RAMALLAH: Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager on Thursday during clashes in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, the latest in a string of deadly incidents that have stoked fears of an escalation.
Violence in the West Bank has surged in recent months as Israel has intensified raids following a spate of lethal Palestinian street attacks in its cities.
The Israeli military said its soldiers came under fire around Jenin, an area of frequent incursions, while operating at the houses of Palestinians involved in a Wednesday clash that left an Israeli officer and two Palestinians dead.
“Armed suspects hurled explosive devices and Molotov cocktails and fired toward the soldiers. In response, the soldiers fired toward the suspects. Hits were identified,” the military said.
The Palestinian health ministry confirmed the death of a 17-year-old. President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killing and Israel’s raids in the West Bank, where dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year.
US-sponsored Palestinian statehood talks with Israel collapsed in 2014. Since then, the domestic credibility of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has limited self-government in the West Bank, has waned.
“Violence is violence. We want everyone to do more, we want the Palestinian Authority to do more, the Palestinian security forces to do more to prevent it,” US Ambassador Tom Nides told Israeli Kan radio.
A spokesperson for Abbas said Israel was responsible for the violence.
“The US administration must pressure the Israeli government to stop its aggression, rather than look to justify Israel’s crimes while holding the Palestinian Authority responsible,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement.
Israel says it has no choice but to operate in militant strongholds like Jenin.
“We want the Palestinian Authority to act decisively against terrorism,” Israel’s National Security Council head Eyal Hulata told a security conference in Tel Aviv.
“In periods in which the Authority and the (Palestinian) security did this effectively, Israel was not required to undertake such extensive activity.”
Palestinian officials say Israel’s actions are weakening the Palestinian Authority and that stability can only prevail once the occupation ends.