Israeli strike kills Palestinian militant, wounds eight people in West Bank

By Ali Sawafta

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) -A Palestinian militant was killed and eight other people wounded on Friday in an Israeli air strike on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry and Israeli military said.

The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group named the killed man as member Islam Khamayseh.

The Palestinian health ministry said the eight wounded people were in stable condition and receiving treatment at hospitals. Reuters could not immediately confirm their identities.

The Israeli military said a fighter jet and helicopter conducted the strike, a rarity in the West Bank, where violence had been surging long before the Gaza war.

Israel said it struck a compound used as an operations center by militants and confirmed the killing of Khamayseh, who it said was responsible for several attacks against Israelis.

The strike "was carried out to remove an imminent threat," it added, without disclosing details on the threat.

Images circulating on social media, which Reuters could not immediately verify, showed a cloud of smoke over the refugee camp, which has over the years become a densely populated urban area. Residents of the camp said a house was targeted.

According to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, some 23,600 residents of the camp were registered as refugees - people who were expelled or fled their homes during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation, or their descendants.

The West Bank is among territories Israel seized in a 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want it to be the core of an independent Palestinian state. Some Palestinian groups like the PIJ have engaged in armed struggle to confront Israel's decades-long military occupation.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Henriette Chacar; Editing by Franklin Paul and Cynthia Osterman)