According to Palestinian sources, ten people have been killed in confrontations with the Israeli military in the West Bank. Nine were killed in a raid in the city of Jenin in the morning, the Ministry of Health in Ramallah announced on Thursday. Dozens more were injured, including four seriously. It was one of the deadliest military operations in the Palestinian Authority in years. In the afternoon, a 22-year-old was shot dead north of Jerusalem during confrontations with Israeli soldiers. The bloodshed fuels fears of a further escalation of the already tense security situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
According to the Israeli military, the forces in Jenin were fired upon while trying to arrest several members of the Palestinian militant organization Islamic Jihad. Three armed suspects were hit by bullets in a firefight and others were arrested. The Palestinians are suspected of planning a terrorist attack, it said.
According to media reports, the dead included eight armed fighters and a 61-year-old woman. Jenin is considered a stronghold of militant Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority announced in the evening that it would cooperate with Israel on security issues. The authority cited unilateral steps and measures taken by Israel in the West Bank and the incidents in Jenin as the reason. The PA had made similar announcements on previous occasions, but they were not actually implemented.
The Israeli media reported, citing political circles, that one had to be prepared for a possible escalation. Defense Minister Joav Galant said security forces on the borders with the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been put on heightened alert.
Islamic Jihad is particularly active in the Gaza Strip, from where it regularly launches rocket attacks on Israel. According to a leader of the organization, "the Palestinian factions and their armed wings in Gaza have their hand on the trigger." Egypt and Qatar reportedly tried to calm the situation on Thursday.
In the summer, the Israeli army launched a large-scale military operation against leading members of Islamic Jihad. They then had more than 1,000 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli towns. After three days of fighting, a ceasefire was agreed. More than 40 people had been killed and hundreds injured in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement by Hamas, the ruling party in the Gaza Strip, it said: "The Israeli occupation will pay the price for the massacre in Jenin." An answer will not be long in coming. Hamas is classified by the EU as a terrorist organization.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtaye called on the international community to "urgently intervene to protect the Palestinian people and end the bloodshed of children, youth and women."
UN envoy Tor Wennesland said he was "deeply concerned". It is crucial to "reduce tensions immediately and prevent further loss of life".
The situation in the West Bank has been very tense for a long time. Since a series of attacks carried out by Palestinians in the past year, the Israeli army has been carrying out more raids there. This year, 30 Palestinians have already been killed in connection with military operations or their own attacks, including five young people. Last year there were 172 - as many as last in 2006.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians claim the territories for an independent state of Palestine with the Arab-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital.