3 Palestinians killed in heavy Jenin clashes; IAF helicopter carries out airstrikes

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Three Palestinians were killed as heavy clashes broke out between gunmen and Israeli troops in the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Monday morning, according to local officials. An Israeli helicopter gunship carried out rare strikes in the city in order for wounded soldiers to be evacuated from the battle zone.

In a brief joint statement, the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police said forces entered Jenin to detain two wanted Palestinians.

“During the activity, a massive exchange of fire took place between the forces and armed gunmen in the area. Large numbers of explosive devices were hurled at the forces. The forces responded with live fire,” the statement said, adding that several suspects were hit.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry reported that three people were killed and at least 29 people were wounded amid clashes with Israeli troops in the city. Several were listed in serious and critical condition.

One of the slain Palestinians was named by media reports as Khaled Azzam Darwish.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed its members had detonated explosive devices near IDF vehicles and then targeted them with gunfire.

The IDF said that “as the security forces exited the city, a military vehicle was hit by an explosive device, damaging the vehicle.”

Footage shared by Palestinian media outlets showed the roadside bomb being detonated next to the Israeli army vehicles. Another clip showed the IDF vehicles coming under fire. Gunfire and explosions could be heard across the city in other clips shared online.

A number of soldiers were wounded in the roadside blast and gunfire.

An IDF Apache helicopter then launched missiles at an area where gunmen were identified, the IDF said, in order for the wounded troops to be evacuated from the area to hospitals in Israel.

Clips published by Palestinian media showed the helicopter launching missiles at a target and also deploying flares over the city, apparently over fears that Palestinians in Jenin possibly have shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.

Footage showed an area close to a building being struck several times by the helicopter missiles, in what marked the first airstrike in the West Bank in years. In the early 2000s, the IDF used attack helicopters in the West Bank more frequently, but only in special circumstances and not as a matter of routine.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been elevated for the past year, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank, amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 20 people and left several more seriously hurt.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 120 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that span, most of them during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under more questionable circumstances.

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