Islamic militant group Hamas has threatened retaliation after five of its members were killed during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank.
- The Israeli military says the raid was targeted at suspected Hamas gunmen
- Hamas says it will avenge the death of its members
- There have been calls for calm on both sides
The Israeli military said its operation in Jericho’s Aqbat Jabr refugee camp on Monday was aimed at catching suspected Hamas gunmen who had attempted a shooting attack on Israelis at a restaurant late last month.
During the raid, a gunfight broke out between armed Palestinians and the security forces.
Jericho’s governor said five people were killed and eight were arrested.
The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, which rules Gaza, said it would avenge the death of its members.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Israeli incursion.
The raid came during a period of heightened tensions that have drawn fears of a further escalation in violence.
The United States and United Nations have called for calm on both sides.
Last year was the deadliest year in more than a decade in the West Bank, with violence steadily escalating amid a spate of lethal Palestinian attacks inside Israel and deadly Israeli raids inside the West Bank.
Israel says its incursions are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians say they further entrench Israel’s 55-year, open-ended occupation of lands they seek for their future state.
Tensions rose sharply at the end of last month, after 10 Palestinians were killed in a raid on a Jenin refugee camp and a Palestinian gunman shot seven people dead near a synagogue in East Jerusalem .
Ahead of discussions in Cairo with Egyptian officials hoping to prevent further escalation, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh indicated the raid could affect the talks.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians lay claim to the territories for their hoped-for state.