An Israeli air strike killed six Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said on Sunday, as Israel said one of its soldiers had been killed, during a visit to the region by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Israel said its aircraft fired on Palestinian fighters who had attacked troops in the city of Jenin, while the Palestinian ministry said the strike targeted people who had gathered at the site, and eyewitnesses said the attack happened as Israeli forces were withdrawing.
“One of the martyrs was decapitated,” Mujahid Nazzal, a Palestinian doctor and first responder at the scene, told Reuters. “It seemed the missile directly hit him. Others had their limbs severed. A seventh person was seriously injured and taken by the ambulance.”
Another witness, Ahmed Suleiman, said, “The air strike happened at the entrance of Jenin in an area called Martyr’s Triangle. You can see the effects of the missile. Blood and body parts scattered everywhere.”
Four of those killed were brothers, according to family members. An Israeli border police officer was killed and others wounded when their vehicle was hit by an explosive device during operations in Jenin, the Israeli military and police said.
A helicopter helped rescue them with covering fire, the military said, adding that an aircraft fired at a “terrorist squad that hurled explosives and endangered our forces, a number of terrorists were killed.”
Blinken started his week-long trip on Saturday, aimed at calming tension that has spiked during Israel’s war with the resistance group Hamas that controls the narrow Gaza strip. The war began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel three months ago, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed 22,700 Palestinians, Palestinian officials say, and the conflict has spilled into the West Bank, Lebanon and Red Sea shipping lanes.
The West Bank had already experienced its highest levels of unrest in decades during the 18 months before the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, but confrontations have risen sharply as Israeli forces launched an invasion of Gaza.—Agencies