Hamas has called on Palestinians to set out on demonstrations to protest IDF operations in Nablus and the Balata refugee camp.
Designated Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the operation was a "severe Zionist escalation."
Haniyeh added that "the blood of Palestinians is not to be used for the elections struggle in Israel. All sides must intervene to stop the Israeli policies."
Speaking to the Hamas website, Haniyeh said that "what is happening in Nablus and the Palestinian camp Balata is a severe escalation that is designed to prevent all serious steps meant to stabilize the Palestinian arena and the assembly of the new Palestinian government."
Haniyeh added that the operation in Nablus "reflects the Zionist policy of oppression against the Palestinian nation, a policy designed to break its will and which turns Palestinian blood into part of the competition between parties in the upcoming Zionist elections campaign. This is unacceptable and we won't agree to it."
'Olmert, Mofaz are attempting to improve situation of their party'
The Hamas senior figure said that "it is the right of the Palestinian nation to defend itself and oppose the occupation and aggressiveness of the Zionists." He sent his condolences to the families killed in Nablus and called on all sides involved in the conflict to become involved to "end the spilling of Palestinian blood."
Palestinians in Nablus (Photo: Reuters)
In Israel, Arab Israeli Knesset Member Mohammad Barakeh, Chairman of the Hadash party, harshly condemned the operation in Nablus.
Barakeh said that "Olmert and Mofaz are attempting to improve the situation of their party in polls at the cost of spilling Palestinian blood. The beginning of the new circle of blood came to eternalize the option of confrontation and to distance as far as possible the option of negotiations and calling for a permanent solution."
Sources in Nablus reported Thursday that the IDF killed five Palestinians, as forces continued to operate in the Balata refugee camp. Two soldiers sustained light wounds in the fighting.
One of those killed was identified as a senior suspect, Muhammad Shatawi. Two other wanted suspects killed in the operation were identified as Abu Ali Quidar and Muhammad Hamis.
A lieutenant colonel in the paratroopers told Ynet “the operation in Nablus will continue as long as the number of terror alerts from the city does not decrease.
The officer then described the military operation: “During the night we received intelligence information regarding a number of wanted terror suspects hiding out in a house. We closed in on the house and took the women out. We did not know where they were hiding. During the search three terrorists opened fire at us from behind a wall. There was a big explosion, and two soldiers were injured as a result; one lightly and one moderately. The force then stormed the three suspects and killed them. In the hiding place we found rifles and an M-16; they were well-prepared.”
As to the three gunmen who were killed, the officer said, “They are responsible for shooting attacks in the area. The terror cell’s head, Shatawi, was wanted for more than a year and responsible for the killing of paratrooper company commander Shahar Ben-Yishai.
“Nablus serves as a haven for all the terror groups that are currently feeling the pressure due to our activity there,” he said.