Israeli forces killed at least nine Palestinians, including a 60-year-old woman, and wounded several more during a raid on a critical area of ​​the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said, in one of the deadliest days in months. of agitation.

The violence occurred during what Palestinian health officials described as a vicious operation in the Jenin refugee camp, a West Bank militant stronghold that has been the focus of nearly a year of Israeli arrest raids.

The Israeli army said forces were operating in the area, but did not immediately provide further details. Israeli media reported that the troops came under fire during the raid. At least one of the dead was identified as a militant.

Palestinian Health Minister May Al-Kaila said paramedics were struggling to reach the wounded amid the fighting. She also accused the military of firing tear gas into a hospital’s pediatric ward, causing children to drown. The army did not immediately comment.

The Jenin hospital identified the murdered woman as Magda Obaid. The Palestinian Health Ministry earlier identified another of the dead as 24-year-old Saeb Azriqi, who was taken to a hospital in critical condition after being shot and died of his wounds. And the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed militia affiliated with Fatah, the secular political party that controls the Palestinian Authority, claimed one of the dead, Izz al-Din Salahat, as a fighter. The ministry said at least 16 people were injured.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, condemned the violence and called on the international community to speak out against it.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have soared since Israel launched the raids last spring, following a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people, while another round of attacks later in the year brought the death toll to 30. .

Thursday’s violence brings the number of Palestinians killed this year to 29. Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year, making 2022 the deadliest since 2004, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

Israel says most of the dead were militants. But young people who protested the incursions and others not involved in the clashes have also been killed.

Israel says the raids are aimed at dismantling militant networks and thwarting future attacks. The Palestinians say they are further entrenching Israel’s 55-year indefinite occupation of land they seek for their future state.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war, territories the Palestinians claim for their hoped-for status.