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Israel begins new raids around West Bank city

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Palestinians run for cover during clashes with Israeli security forces at the northern entrance of Ramallah, near the Israeli settlement of Beit Eil, in the occupied West Bank, on Monday. AFP

Israel begins new raids around West Bank city

Israeli forces launched a third day of operations Monday around the flashpoint West Bank city of Jenin following heavy gun battles in recent days and overnight arrests, the army said.

Tensions have soared since a spree of attacks in Israel left 14 people dead in the past three weeks, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warning the Jewish state is now “on the offensive”.

The Israeli army said 14 Palestinians were arrested early Monday, a day after four Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in the occupied territory , sparking criticism from international observers.

An additional 13 army battalions were now operating in the West Bank, said a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In Jenin, thousands of mourners flooded the streets, many carrying Palestinian flags or rifles, for the funeral of Mohamed Zakarneh, 17, who according to the Wafa news agency died of gunshot wounds overnight.

“The resistance is in direct confrontation with the occupation and any minute we must expect a total clash,” said Ziad al-Nakhala, secretary general of the militant Islamic Jihad movement, in a statement.

“Jenin must not be isolated, no matter the cost.”

The Israeli army said it operated nearby Monday, in Burqa and Qallil in the northern West Bank, as well as in Al-Aroub and Hebron in the south.

“Violent riots were instigated by dozens of Palestinians” near Nablus, the army said, while the Palestine Red Crescent said 24 Palestinians were wounded in the Nablus area overnight.

Jenin, as well as Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, declared general strikes, shuttering shops, offices and official institutions.

“We will beat this terror wave with our powerful security forces,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Monday.

“There is the risk of escalation into a wider campaign in Gaza or some events in Lebanon,” he said.

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