Israeli forces kill Palestinian fighter in northern West Bank raid

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters): Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian militant during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the seventh person killed this week as President Mahmoud Abbas sought to revive statehood talks amid efforts to further integrate Israel into the Middle East.

The militant Jihad group claimed the 18-year-old as a member. In a statement, they said he was shot while confronting Israeli soldiers who raided the village of Kafr Dan near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

The Israeli military said soldiers opened fire at suspects who shot at and hurled an explosive device at its forces during a weapons search operation in Kafr Dan. “A hit was identified,” it said in a statement.

Violence in the West Bank violence has surged for over a year, with stepped up Israeli military raids, increased settler assaults on Palestinian villages and a spate of Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis.

On Tuesday, three Palestinians were killed during a military raid on Jenin, among them a 15-year-old who was shot by Israeli special forces after he discovered them as he was leaving his grandfather’s house, according to rights group Defense for Children International — Palestine.

Israel occupied the West Bank, which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state, in a 1967 Middle East war. It has since built Jewish settlements there that most countries deem illegal.

The expansion of settlements under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government have strained ties between the Israeli leader and President Joe Biden, who met in New York this week for the first time since Netanyahu returned to power in December.

US-sponsored statehood negotiations collapsed in 2014 and current diplomatic efforts seem to be focused on forging a historic deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, President Abbas said Middle East peace was achievable only when Palestinians achieve “their full rights.” He called on the UN to convene a peace conference to “salvage the two-state solution.”