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Israel says its deadly raid into occupied territory prevented future attacks

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

How did an Israeli military operation turn so deadly?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Israel says it was trying to prevent attacks by launching one of its own. This happened in the occupied West Bank. And for those who don't follow this daily, we mention a few basics. Israel captured that region in a 1967 war and has controlled it since. Palestinians who live there have some authority in some areas, but Israel sends security forces where they choose. And yesterday, Israelis said they wanted to capture three suspects who were accused of planning future attacks.

MARTÍNEZ: By the time it was over, 11 Palestinians were killed. Washington Post reporter Miriam Berger is in the West Bank. Miriam, how did this raid unfold?

MIRIAM BERGER: So yesterday, around 10:30 a.m., the Israeli military began a raid on the town community of Nablus on the northern West Bank. It, you know, was a crowded day in the old city. And by the end of it, 11 people - Palestinians - had been killed. Among them were a 16-year-old, 72-year-old, 61-year-old, 6-year-old, and militant groups took - said that six of those after were killed were members of their group. And the Israeli military said it was targeting, in particular, three wanted fighters who it said had planned - that had carried out attacks and were planning immediate attacks. But, you know, this is a very, very crowded area. It was the daytime. And the stories - you know, lots of civilians were in the area, and it left a very, very chaotic and bloody scene.

MARTÍNEZ: And how are Palestinians responding?

BERGER: So, you know, this is part of a increase in raids and arrests that have been happening for nearly a year now. And it's really, really infuriated people. You know, average Palestinians are, you know, experiencing much more of a sort of an increase in violence in their everyday and especially in places like Nablus and Jenin, a nearby city, which have also, you know, sort of been the centers of this unrest. The various armed groups that have been forming - many of them are sort of young, disillusioned people who are, you know, from various political factions and are uniting, you know, in sort of these localized groups. They've, you know, pledged to step up attacks. So has this sort of larger, historic, larger groups, as well. You know, people are really feeling very under threat right now.

MARTÍNEZ: And the rise in violence has also coincided with the election of the most right-wing government in Israel's history. How is that affecting the situation?

BERGER: It very much is. You know, so there's - you know, key members of this new government have, you know, said they want to entirely annex the occupied West Bank. They have called for much harsher - already harsher, you know, policies against Palestinians. It's really made people afraid and sort of lost hope. You talk to folks, and there's just - I constantly hear people saying, like, there's no prospects, there's no hope, there's no belief in the political process. And there's no belief in the international community helping out Palestinians, either. So people really feel like they're backed into a corner right now. And then these raids happen, and it really, you know, just exacerbates the whole cycle.

MARTÍNEZ: Miriam Berger is a Washington Post reporter covering the Middle East and foreign affairs. Miriam, thanks.

BERGER: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.