World (AP)

Israeli forces kill a Palestinian militant in the latest violence in the occupied West Bank | AP News

Israeli forces kill a Palestinian militant in the latest violence in the occupied West Bank | AP News

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian militant in the restive northern West Bank on Friday, Palestinian authorities said, the latest death in a spiral of violence that has gripped the occupied territory over the last year and a half, surging to levels unseen in two decades.

The militant Islamic Jihad group claimed the man as its fighter and identified him as 18-year-old Abdallah Abu Hasan. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Hasan was shot in the abdomen by Israeli forces early Friday morning in a Palestinian village north of the West Bank city of Jenin.

The Israeli army said the incident occurred during a nighttime raid into the West Bank, after Palestinians fired and threw explosives at soldiers in the town of Kafr Dan. Soldiers shot back, hitting Hasan. The army also said it found and deactivated an explosive, arrested four suspects and confiscated two weapons Thursday night.

The operation marked the latest in a series of stepped-up raids Israel has been staging in Palestinian areas of the West Bank. Israel claims such raids root out militancy and thwart future attacks.

But Palestinian attacks on Israelis are also mounting. On Thursday, a young Palestinian man allegedly stabbed an Israeli security guard at a Jerusalem light rail station. He was then shot and wounded by police.

Tensions also appear to be spreading to Gaza.

Israeli media reported Friday that incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel started a fire just east of the territory, near an Israeli kibbutz. Video from the area showed small blazes burning through roadside vegetation, leaving large patches blackened and ashy.

Palestinians have been staging violent protests near the separation fence between Israel and Gaza in recent days.

Palestinians in Gaza have launched incendiary balloons at Israel in the past, in protest against an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on the territory since 2007. The balloons have caused fires along the frontier near Gaza and ramped up tensions, prompting Israel on several occasions to use fighter jets to strike back against targets of the ruling Hamas group.

Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the year, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

At least 31 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis since the beginning of 2023.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.