Ramallah (Reuters) – Clashes erupted after Israeli forces mounted a rare raid into the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank early on Thursday, in what the military said was an operation to demolish the house of an assailant.
A Reuters witness said a large military convoy arrived in downtown Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, leading hundreds of Palestinians to gather in the area.
Some Palestinian youth hurled stones at the Israeli forces, who fired live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd, the witness said. Trash bins that were set on fire blocked roads as ambulance sirens wailed.
The Palestinian health ministry said at least six people were transferred to hospital for treatment, including three who sustained gunshot wounds.
The Israeli military said its forces were operating in Ramallah “to demolish the residence of the terrorist who carried out the bombing attack in Jerusalem last November”.
The twin blasts killed two people, including an Israeli-Canadian teenager, and wounded at least 14 others in what police said were explosions of improvised bombs that were planted at bus stops near the city exit and in a junction leading to a settlement.
“The demolition of the homes of fighters is a collective punishment that falls under the war crimes committed by the occupation against our people,” said Abdel Fattah Dola of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
Israel has said the policy of demolishing homes of perpetrators is both punitive and a deterrence to potential attackers.
Hours earlier the U.S. envoy to Palestinians, Hady Amr, met with senior Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh.
Violence in the West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has risen during the past year. Israel has intensified its military raids amid a spate of street attacks carried out by Palestinians in its cities.
The Palestinian health ministry said at least 158 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since January. Israel’s foreign ministry said 20 Israelis and two foreign nationals have been killed in Palestinian attacks in the same period.