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Israeli forces escalate raids in occupied West Bank while continuing bombardment of Gaza

ISRAELI forces escalated raids in West Bank towns today, while also continuing their relentless bombardment of a Gaza refugee camp. 

Amid growing international concern at Israel’s actions, Spain and Norway became the latest countries pledging to recognise a Palestinian state.

In the occupied West Bank, two Palestinians were killed early today in confrontations with Israeli forces, Palestinian medics and the military said. 

The raids took place in the town of Tubas and the adjacent refugee camp of al-Faraa. 

The Palestine Red Crescent Society confirmed the two deaths and said three people had been wounded, including one who sustained serious injuries.

The Israeli military said its target, local Hamas commander Mohammed Daraghmeh, had been killed in a gun battle. 

A second Palestinian was killed in subsequent clashes.

The Red Crescent said one of its ambulances had been fired on by Israeli forces as medics were trying to treat one of the wounded.

Palestinian health officials say 460 Palestinians, including several dozen children and teenagers, have been killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Six months of fighting in the tiny Palestinian territory have pushed it into a humanitarian crisis, leaving more than one million people on the brink of starvation. 

United States Agency for International Development head Samantha Power  told legislators earlier this week that she accepted “credible” reports that there is now a famine in northern Gaza. 

US President Joe Biden said this week that Israel is not doing enough to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Israeli bombardments and ground offensives have killed at least 33,360 Palestinians in the besieged coastal strip and wounded 74,993, the Gaza Health Ministry says, with women and children accounting for two-thirds of the dead.

Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said today that his government had “publicly committed to recognising Palestine as a state as soon as possible.”

Mr Sanchez was in the Norwegian capital Oslo as part of a tour to push for peace in Gaza and seek support for the recognition of Palestinian statehood. 

His Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store said that “Norway stands ready to recognise the state of Palestine and to recognise its appropriate place in the United Nations.”

The traditional position of the United States and European allies had been that recognition of a Palestinian state should come at the end of successful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. 

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