A 15-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and three other people injured when Israeli troops clashed with Palestinians during West Bank raids linked to the search for three missing Israeli teenagers believed to have been abducted, officials said.
The violence was a sign of the growing escalation in the West Bank as Israel’s search for the three kidnapped Yeshiva students entered its second week.
Israel has blamed Islamic militant Hamas group for abducting the trio, although there is no proof.
The crisis has intensified already strained relations between Israel and the new Palestinian government, which is headed by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas but backed by Hamas.
Hamas, which has abducted Israelis before, has praised the abduction of the teenagers but has not claimed responsibility for it.
Over the past week, thousands of Israeli troops have searched hundreds of locations in the West Bank and arrested more than 300 Palestinians, many of them from the militant Hamas group.
The Israeli military said it carried out raids in four towns and refugee camps early today, detaining 25 suspects and searching about 200 locations. The army said nine institutions linked to Hamas were searched and materials were confiscated.
In one raid, in the town of Dura near Hebron, Palestinian youths threw stones at soldiers, drawing army fire. A hospital official said 15-year-old Mohammed Dodeen was killed by a bullet in the chest.
The army also opened fire during a raid in the Qalandiya refugee camp, where three Palestinians were seriously wounded, said Ahmed Bitawi, director of Ramallah hospital. He said one was in the intensive care unit and two were in a serious condition.
The army confirmed soldiers used life fire, saying troops were responding to life-threatening situations. It said soldiers were engaged in sporadic confrontations during today’s raids.
Palestinians threw home-made explosives, firebombs, fireworks and stones at the forces, it said.
In Qalandiya, a soldier was slightly hurt by a grenade thrown at troops, the army said.
The military also said it carried out air strikes on “terror sites” in Gaza overnight, in retaliation to several rockets fired by Gaza militants at Israel.
Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said six people were slightly injured in the air strikes, including four children.
Since the escalation erupted over the teenagers’ disappearance, 16 rockets have been fired at Israel, the army said. A house was damaged but there were no injuries.
The three students – Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship – disappeared on June 12 while hitch-hiking home. There has been no trace of them and no ransom or other demands have been received.
In Israel, prayer vigils and round-the-clock media coverage have followed the teenagers’ disappearance.