JERUSALEM — Israeli forces on Thursday killed nine Palestinians — including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman — in the deadliest single incident in the occupied West Bank in two decades, Palestinian officials said. Two rockets were fired from Gaza early Friday and Israel responded with airstrikes on the territory, further escalating tensions.
The Israeli military said both rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defense system. It was the first such attack from the militant Hamas-ruled territory since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power at the head of a far-right government that has pledged a tough line against Palestinian militancy.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the Israeli airstrikes.
The raid in the Jenin refugee camp and the rocket fire increases the risk of a major flare-up in Israeli-Palestinian fighting and casts a shadow on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected trip to the region next week.
Raising the stakes, the Palestinian Authority said it would halt the ties that its security forces maintain with Israel in a shared effort to contain Islamic militants. Previous threats have been short-lived, in part because of the benefits the authority enjoys from the relationship and also due to U.S. and Israeli pressure to maintain it.
The PA already has limited control over scattered enclaves in the West Bank, and almost none over militant strongholds like the Jenin camp. But the announcement could pave the way for Israel to step up operations it says are needed to prevent attacks.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, had earlier threatened revenge for the raid. Violent escalations in the West Bank have previously triggered retaliatory rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, which in turn has brought Israeli airstrikes down on the isolated and impoverished territory.
The Israeli strikes early Friday targeted training sites for Palestinian militant groups, the military said. Witnesses and local media reported that Israeli drones fired two missiles at a militant base in central Gaza Strip. The drone strikes usually serve as a warning for larger airstrikes by fighter jets.