Protest strike after Israel uses drone to kill Palestinian fighters
A general strike was declared in the flashpoint city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Thursday in protest against the killing of three Palestinians by an Israeli drone 24 hours earlier.
The attack came amid a surge in violence over recent days.
The Israeli military said a squad of militants was identified in a vehicle after they carried out a shooting attack near the town of Jalamah.
A statement by the Islamic Jihad militant group said two of the men were its fighters, while the third was from Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement.
Although the use of surveillance drones is commonplace, the strike by an Elbit Hermes drone was the first by the Israeli military in the West Bank since 2006, the IDF said.
Helicopter gunships were also used in the Jenin operation.
Israeli military expert Eyal Alima said that gunmen pose the primary threat to the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank, so the military decided to use drones to remove the danger.
Alima added that the Israeli security services oppose any large-scale military operation in the northern West Bank as they fear that the fallout may outweigh any benefit.
However, according to Israeli political expert Yoni Ben Menachem, Israel is resorting to assassinations because the US is preventing it from carrying out a military operation in the northern West Bank.
Saudi Arabia strongly condemned on Thursday the attacks by Israeli settlers on several Palestinian villages in the West Bank.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed a Palestinian town on Wednesday, setting fire to dozens of cars and homes.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s categorical rejection of acts of intimidation of Palestinian civilians.
It renewed its unwavering support for all international efforts to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue based on international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Meanwhile, Israeli data revealed on Thursday that the far-right Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the construction of 13,000 units in the West Bank settlements during the past six months, double the number approved in 2020.
Netanyahu announced on Wednesday the expansion of the Eli settlement, north of Ramallah, with about 1,000 units.
During the final year of former US President Donald Trump’s term, work began on about 7,000 settlement units in the West Bank. It was considered a particularly successful year for settlement construction in the West Bank as the number of approved units crossed the 10,000 mark.
Despite President Joe Biden’s opposition, the current Israeli government has reached 13,000 approved units in just six months.
The government continues to implement its settlement campaigns despite international warnings, the latest of which was a statement by the UN head Antonio Guterres on Monday calling on Israel to stop its “disturbing decisions” related to settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.
In a recent US-brokered agreement with the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government agreed to avoid legalizing outposts in the West Bank for six months.
Current Israeli ministers and former military commanders are calling on the Netanyahu government to launch a large-scale military operation in northern West Bank cities.
Avigdor Lieberman, former defense minister, said on Thursday: “Qassam (the military arm of Hamas) rockets will be launched toward settlements in the northern West Bank and Gush Dan from Jenin soon.
“Every sane person understands that the Palestinian organizations in the northern West Bank are working to obtain a missile capability, and it is only a matter of time before they will have dozens or perhaps hundreds of Qassam rockets at their disposal, as it started in the Gaza Strip.”
Lieberman demanded that the strikes be directed at the Gaza Strip, saying: “Those who want to eliminate the resistance in the West Bank should start from the Gaza Strip, and this means start targeting Hamas leaders.”