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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israeli Reprisals Increase Death Toll

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israel stepped up reprisals for Palestinian shooting and bombing attacks, and Palestinians said 14 people were killed Monday by Israeli fire, including five minors and a woman whose car was hit by tank shells and a doctor whose ambulance came under fire during rescue efforts.

Israel's security Cabinet decided late Sunday to intensify military strikes after 22 Israelis were killed in four weekend attacks by Palestinian militants.

Monday's deadliest incident took place in the West Bank town of Ramallah where a pickup truck belonging to an Islamic militant leader, Hussein Abu Kweik, was hit by what Palestinian security officials said were two tank shells fired by troops stationed at a nearby Jewish settlement. A second car was hit by shrapnel.

Abu Kweik's wife had picked up her three children, ages 8, 14 and 17, from school and was driving in a well-to-do neighborhood of Ramallah when the vehicle was hit and all four passengers were killed. Two children, ages 4 and 16, were killed in the second car.

The Israeli military said it was investigating the incident. "If it turns out that the Israeli Defense Forces killed civilians, we will not hesitate to apologize," said Captain Sharon Feingold of the army's spokesman's office.

Abu Kweik, a leader of the Hamas group, was not in the pickup when it was hit Monday. Hamas officials said Abu Kweik belonged to Hamas' political wing and was not involved in attacks on Israelis.

Israel also raided a Jenin refugee camp Monday. Five Palestinians were killed and 20 wounded, eight of them seriously, by Israeli fire, hospital officials said.

Among the dead in the Jenin raid was Dr. Khalil Suleiman, head of local emergency services, whose ambulance came under fire near an Israeli checkpoint, the army said.

In the Jenin fighting, Israeli troops manning tanks and helicopters fired machine guns toward Palestinian gunmen.

Ambulances could not reach many of the wounded for some time because of the heavy shooting, witnesses said. Suleiman was directing rescue efforts, and was riding in an ambulance when it was hit by an Israeli tank shell, officials at the Red Crescent said. Three of the doctor's colleagues in the ambulance were seriously wounded, the Red Crescent said.

Israeli army officials said the ambulance approached an Israeli checkpoint at high speed and that soldiers opened fire, fearing the vehicle was trying to run them down.

"The ambulance blew up, which raises questions about what was in it and what the intentions of the drivers were," said Feingold.

The army has said ambulances are being used to smuggle weapons and gunmen, while Palestinians say soldiers have been firing indiscriminately at ambulances.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops entered the Rafah refugee camp on the border with Egypt and demolished three buildings, witnesses said. Troops exchanged fire with local gunmen, killing two armed Palestinians and a civilian and wounding seven, doctors said. The Israeli military said troops searched for tunnels used to smuggle arms under the border from Egypt.

Israeli troops also shot and killed a Palestinian man who ran toward an Israeli army checkpoint near the West Bank town of Nablus, the army said.