Palestinian militants in Gaza launched rockets at southern Israel and Israeli aircraft struck targets in the coastal enclave early Thursday after a gun battle with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank killed 10 Palestinians. An 11th person died from tear gas inhalation. Among those killed in Wednesday's raid in Nablus were Palestinian men aged 72 and 61, and a 16-year-old boy, according to health officials. Palestinian officials said at least 103 other were wounded, the Guardian reports. Various Palestinian militant groups claimed six of the dead as members. There was no immediate word on whether the others belonged to armed groups. Violence in the West Bank often sets off a response from militants in Gaza, although the rocket attacks were not immediately claimed by Palestinian militant groups, the AP reports.
The Nablus raid was one of the bloodiest battles in nearly a year of fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and raised the likelihood of further bloodshed. Israeli police said they were on heightened alert, while the Hamas militant group in Gaza said its patience was "running out." Islamic Jihad, another militant group, vowed to retaliate. In response to the raid, a strike was called across the West Bank and schools, universities and shops all shut down in protest. Schools and universities were shuttered in Gaza. Most shops in east Jerusalem were also closed. Wednesday's four-hour operation left a broad swath of damage in a centuries-old marketplace in Nablus, a city known as a militant stronghold.
In one emotional scene, an overwhelmed medic pronounced a man dead, only to notice the lifeless patient was his father. Elsewhere, an amateur video showed two men, apparently unarmed, being shot as they ran in the street. The violence comes in the first weeks of Israel's new far-right government, which has promised to take a tough line against the Palestinians and pledged to ramp up settlement construction on lands Palestinians seek for their future state. Israel was bracing for a retaliation and police were stepping up security in sensitive areas. A day after a raid in January on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank that killed 10 Palestinians, a Palestinian man shot and killed seven people outside a synagogue in east Jerusalem.
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