An Israeli army raid on Wednesday killed 11 Palestinians in Nablus, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.
More than 80 Palestinians sustained gunshot wounds, the ministry said, in what the Israeli army called a “counterterrorism” operation.
The Israeli army said the raid targeted militant suspects “in a hideout apartment” accused of shootings in the West Bank.
Troops came under fire, but sustained no casualties, it said.
Top Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh called the incident a “massacre” and called for “international protection for our people.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory is at its most combustible in years,” with tensions “sky high” as “the peace process remains stalled.”
“Our immediate priority must be to prevent further escalation, reduce tensions and restore calm,” Guterres told the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
The death toll surpassed that of an Israeli army raid last month in Jenin, further north, which had been the deadliest West Bank operation since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of 2000 to 2005.
Before dawn yesterday, several rockets from Gaza — six according to the Israeli army, and eight according to witnesses on the Palestinian side — were fired into Israel.
The Israeli army said that it intercepted five of the six fired, while the final rocket fell in an uninhabited area.
The rocket launches came after the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group called the Israeli army’s raid a “major crime” that the “resistance must respond to.”
In Wednesday’s raid, one of the wanted suspects who had fled the building was “neutralized,” along with two others who had opened fire at the property, the Israeli army said.
The suspects and Israeli forces “exchanged fire ... there were also rockets that were fired on the house” by the army, spokesman Richard Hecht told journalists.
Rocks, explosive devices and Molotov cocktails were hurled at the troops, the army said.
The ministry said that those killed “as a result of the occupation’s aggression on Nablus” were aged from 16 to 72.
Hours after the raid, the ministry announced the death of a 66-year-old man from tear gas inhalation.
A further 82 people were admitted to hospitals with gunshot wounds, Palestinian health officials said.
Mostafa Shaheen, a Nablus resident, said that “soldiers ... besieged the whole area” at about 9:30am.
“We kept hearing the explosions and gunfire,” he told reporters.
The wounded included Palestine TV journalist Mohammed al-Khatib, who was shot in the hand, his colleague told reporters.
The Islamic Jihad militant group said that one of its commanders was killed “in a heroic battle.”
The Lions’ Den, a militant group based in Nablus, said that six of those killed were members of Palestinian factions.
Troops withdrew from the city after three hours, a journalist said.
Hailing the army’s “courage,” Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant wrote on Twitter that Israel’s “long arm” would reach “any terrorist.”
In the afternoon, a huge crowd, including armed men, gathered in central Nablus as well as in the nearby Balata refugee camp for the funerals of 10 of those killed, correspondents said.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that its medics had treated 250 cases of tear gas inhalation and dozens of gunshot wounds.
The Arab League said that the raid amounted to a “heinous crime.”
“The occupation authorities and the far-right Israeli government are responsible for this horrible massacre,” said Saeed Abu Ali, the league’s assistant secretary-general for Palestinian affairs.
US Department of State spokesman Ned Price said that Washington was “extremely concerned by the levels of violence.”
“We recognize the very real security concerns facing Israel. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the large number of injuries and the loss of civilian lives,” he said.
The EU “is deeply alarmed by the spiraling violence in the West Bank,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said.
He called on “all parties” to work toward “restoring calm and ... avoid further loss of life.”
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