Israeli forces fire teargas canister at Palestinian demonstrators during clashes near the Jewish settlement of Beit El near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank (AFP)
GAZA CITY: Palestinian health officials say six Palestinians were killed by Israeli army fire in the West Bank on Friday.
The health ministry says five were killed in stone-throwing clashes with Israeli forces in several locations, and a sixth was killed during an attempt to stab an Israeli soldier.
The health officials said some 100 Palestinians were injured, most of them by live fire. The protests took place in several locations across the West Bank, signaling a new wave of unrest there as part of the escalation of fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
The West Bank violence comes as Israel unleashed a heavy barrage of tank fire and airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Friday. Israel said it was clearing a network of militant tunnels ahead of a possible ground invasion.
As Israel and Hamas plunged closer to all-out war despite international efforts at a cease-fire, communal violence in Israel erupted for a fourth night. Jewish and Arab mobs clashed in the flashpoint town of Lod, even after Israel dispatched additional security forces.
An Egyptian intelligence official with knowledge of the talks said Israel rejected an Egyptian proposal for a yearlong truce with Hamas and other Gaza militants, which would have started at midnight Thursday had Israel agreed. He said Hamas had accepted the proposal.
The official said Israel wants to delay a cease-fire to give time to destroy more of Hamas’ and Islamic Jihad’s military capabilities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the operation, saying in a video statement that Israel would “extract a very heavy price from Hamas.”