Three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli army raid in a West Bank refugee camp early Monday, Palestinian health officials said, while the Biden administration sharply condemned Israel’s latest act of settlement expansion.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said the three men were killed during a raid in Balata, a refugee camp near the city of Nablus. Six people were wounded, including one who was in critical condition, the ministry said.
The army later confirmed soldiers had raided Balata; it said troops came under fire and killed three Palestinians. Three others were arrested there, the army said. Israel has stepped up raids over the past year in response to a spate of Palestinian attacks and said Monday’s operations netted weapons and an explosives manufacturing operation in a home, which it detonated.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration issued a sharply worded statement on Sunday criticizing Israel for moving to reestablish settlers at the formerly evacuated outpost of Homesh in northern West Bank.
In March, the Israeli government repealed a 2005 act that dismantled four West Bank settlements. Over the weekend, the top Israeli army general in the West Bank signed an order attaching Homesh to a local settler regional council — a move paving the way for reconstruction of the outpost.
The United States was “deeply troubled” by what U.S. State Department spokesman Mathew Miller said was Israel’s illegal policy on the outpost in the occupied territory.
Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements, home to 700,000 people in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, to be illegal and obstacles to peace.
Miller also expressed Washington’s concerns about ultranationalist National Security Minister Itmar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. The contested site is also home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.
“This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity,” Miller said in the statement.
Under longstanding arrangements, Jews are permitted to visit the site, but not to pray there. But in recent years, a growing number of Jewish visitors have begun to quietly pray, raising fears among Palestinians that Israel is plotting to divide or take over the site. Ben-Gvir has long called for increased Jewish access.
In a separate overnight raid in the northern town of Jenin, the army said two Palestinians were shot and three were arrested when the Israeli forces came under attack. Israeli forces also raided five other locations overnight and two refugee camps — Ayola and Aqabat.
More than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the spring of 2022. About 50 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.