/ 29 October 2023

Violence surges in occupied West Bank as Israel steps up attacks on Gaza

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Palestinians injured in Israeli air raids arrive at Nasser Medical Hospital on October 27, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Israeli forces killed three Palistinians in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as violence surges across the territory in parallel with Israel’s war in Gaza.

More than 110 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in the West Bank since 7 October. 

Israel occupied the West Bank during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and its forces regularly carry out raids on Palestinian communities.

The health ministry said three people aged 29 to 31 were shot dead by Israeli forces at dawn, with the killings taking place in Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah, in Nablus’s Askar refugee camp and in Tubas, a town further north.

It did not provide further details and the Israeli military did not immediately comment when contacted by AFP.

In recent months there has also been a rise in violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. 

On Saturday, a Palestinian who was harvesting his olives was killed by a settler in the village of Sawiya near Nablus, the health ministry said.

Meanwhile in Gaza the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) raised the number of troops fighting there, a spokesperson said on Sunday, as the military stepped up its war in the Palestinian territory. 

Israel unleashed its massive retaliation after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on 7 October, killing 1 400 people, mostly civilians, and seized 230 hostages, according to Israeli officials. The Palestinian health ministry said Israel’s heavy bombardment of Gaza has claimed more than 8 000 lives.

“Overnight we increased the entry of IDF forces into the [Gaza] Strip and they joined the forces already fighting there,” Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a televised briefing. 

On Friday evening, Israeli armoured forces and infantry began operating inside Gaza as part of “stage two” of the war. 

It said on Sunday that it had struck another “450 Hamas targets” within the past 24 hours. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded, one severely by a mortar shell.

The United Nations warned on Sunday that “civil order” was starting to collapse in Gaza after people ransacked its food warehouses containing wheat, flour and other basic survival items such as hygiene supplies..

“This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege,” said Thomas White, Gaza’s United Nations relief agency for the Palestinian refugees.

Oxfam said in a statement this week: “Starvation is being used as a weapon of war against Gaza civilians.” 

It said an analysis of United Nations data found that “just 2% of food that would have been delivered had entered Gaza since the total siege, which tightened the existing blockade, was imposed on 9 October. 

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres on Sunday warned the situation in Gaza is declining rapidly as he repeated desperate appeals for a ceasefire to end the “nightmare” of bloodshed.

“The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations,” he said.

“More than two million people, with nowhere safe to go, are being denied the essentials for life — food, water, shelter and medical care … I urge all those with responsibility to step back from the brink.”

The UN’s top diplomat arrived in Nepal on a four-day visit after talks in Qatar. 

“I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the delivery of sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people of Gaza,” he said.

“We must join forces to end this nightmare for the people of Gaza, Israel and all those affected around the world, including here in Nepal.”

Ten Nepali students were killed in Israel during the Hamas attack on 7 October, and one Nepali citizen is missing.