Clashes erupt after Israel mounts raid into Palestinian city of Ramallah

A rare raid by the Israeli army into the Palestinian city of Ramallah sparked clashes early on Thursday (May 8). The military said that the operation in the city in the occupied West Bank was launched to demolish the house of an assailant.

Reuters cited a witness who said that a large military convoy entered Ramallah, which is the seat of the Palestinian government. The presence of the Israeli army in downtown Ramallah led to hundreds of people gathering in the area. Some youths hurled stones at the Israeli forces. The soldiers fired live bullets, lobbed stun grenades and used tear gas at the crowd. Roads were seen blocked by trash bins set afire. Ambulance sirens could be heard.

According to the Palestinian health ministry, at least six people were sent to hospital. These included three who sustained gunshot wounds.

The Israeli military said its forces were operating in Ramallah “to demolish the residence of the terrorist who carried out the bombing attack in Jerusalem last November”.

The twin blasts killed two people, including an Israeli-Canadian teenager, and wounded at least 14 others in what police said were explosions of improvised bombs that were planted at bus stops near the city exit and in a junction leading to a settlement.

“The demolition of the homes of fighters is a collective punishment that falls under the war crimes committed by the occupation against our people,” said Abdel Fattah Dola of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

Punishment and deterrence

Israel has supported the policy of demolishing the homes of perpetrators as this, it says, is both punitive and deterrent action.

Israel’s raid into Ramallah came just hours after US envoy to Palestinians, Hady Amr, met Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official.

The last one year has seen violence in the West Bank rise. Israel has stepped up military raids. There have been street attacks carried out by Palestinians.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 158 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since January. Israel’s foreign ministry said 20 Israelis and two foreign nationals have been killed in Palestinian attacks in the same period.

Israel has been in occupation of the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967. In West Bank, nearly three million Palestinians live. Similarly, around 490,000 Israelis live there in settlements. These settlements are deemed illegal by the United Nations (UN) and most of the international community.

(With inputs from agencies)

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