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As Gaza war rages, Israeli forces kill 27 Palestinians in West Bank

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“ISRAEL IS OUR ENEMY”

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited governance in areas of the West Bank, is led by the Fatah faction, a rival to Hamas, which pushed Fatah out of Gaza after a brief civil war in 2006-07. However, PA leaders have expressed sympathy with Gaza in the war with Israel.

“Israel is our enemy and occupier and it is our people’s right to defend themselves,” said Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh at a government meeting on Monday, even as several Western backers of the PA considered suspending aid.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry, which has repeatedly raised the danger of increased assaults on Palestinians waged by armed Jewish settlers, warned against supplying settlers in the West Bank with more arms amid surging violence, describing it as a provocation that would “blow things up in the West Bank”.

Five minors were among the deaths since Saturday, Palestinian officials said, adding that more than 130 Palestinians had been wounded, many in confrontations with the military across the West Bank. At least one of the people killed was claimed by an armed Palestinian group.

With uncertainty growing around who will replace the PA’s unpopular octogenarian president, Hamas has been making efforts to expand its influence in the West Bank.

Since the movement launched the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in the country’s 75-year history, it has repeatedly called on Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank to join the fight and resist occupation.

Despite entrenched political divides, President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, which dominates the PA’s institutions in the West Bank, said Palestinians outside the coastal enclave should also resist Israel’s decades-old occupation and confront Israel’s military.

Violence in the West Bank had already been surging, with stepped up Israeli military raids, settler assaults on Palestinian towns and a spate of Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis. This year’s Palestinian death toll until Saturday was over 220 and at least 29 people in Israel had been killed, according to UN records.

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