Israeli security forces killed eight people in the occupied West Bank and wounded more than 100 others according to local officials, raising the prospect of a new front emerging in the deepening conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians across the West Bank — from Nablus to Jericho — have clashed with Israeli soldiers in chaotic protests against six days of Israel’s six-day bombardment of Hamas in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Communal riots between Jews and minority Israeli Arabs in cities also shook the country, exposing a deep rift within the Jewish State. The Israeli military operation in Gaza has killed 122 Palestinians, including 51 women and children. A family of six was killed on Friday, according to Gaza health officials. Despite the Israeli bombardment, which has been ramped up to include artillery and tank fire, Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, has fired about 1,800 rockets deep into Israel. Nine Israelis have been killed, including a child and a soldier.
The West Bank, which is the seat of Fatah, Hamas’ rival Palestinian faction, has been relatively quiet this week. But five Palestinians were killed on Friday after protesting and throwing stones at Israeli security forces, while a sixth man was killed after trying to stab an Israeli soldier, health officials in the West Bank said. An escalation of violence in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 war and is home to about 650,000 Israeli settlers, would add a dangerous new dynamic to the conflict.
Recommended As well as its campaign against Hamas, Israel is already grappling with the worst domestic communal violence in years as groups of Jews and minority Arab Israeli men have attacked members of each other’s communities and destroyed property in mixed Israeli towns.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has for more than a decade been dominated by fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian factions in the occupied territories. But the communal violence has sparked new tensions.