Josep Borrell
Josep BorrellReuters

Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday criticized Israel over its counterterrorism operation in the city of Shechem (Nablus), in which IDF soldiers eliminated ten terrorists, some of whom planned to carry out an attack in the coming days.

Palestinian Arab tallies said that 102 people were injured in the gun battle that broke out between the Israeli soldiers and terrorists during the operation.

“The EU deplores the death of civilians and reiterates that the use of force must be proportionate, in full respect of international humanitarian law, and come only as a last resort when strictly unavoidable to protect life,” Borrell said in a statement.

“The EU is deeply alarmed by the spiraling violence in the West Bank. It is of utmost importance that all parties work towards restoring calm and de-escalating tensions to avoid further loss of life,” he added.

“The EU strongly supports the 20 February Presidential Statement adopted by the UN Security Council, and urges all parties to fully adhere to it,” continued Borrell, referring to a statement published by the Security Council on Monday expressing "dismay" over “Jewish settlement activity” in Judea and Samaria and describing it as “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution.”

Borrell’s statement came after US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that the Biden administration is "extremely concerned" by the Shechem battle.

“We wish a speedy recovery to those injured and our hearts go out to the families of the innocent bystanders who were killed today,” Price said. "We recognize the very real security concerns facing Israel. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the large number of injuries and the loss of civilian lives.”

He added, “We had productive conversations in recent days with the parties and with US regional partners in support of efforts to prevent further violence. We are deeply concerned that the impact of today’s raid could set back efforts aimed at restoring calm for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Today’s events further underscore the urgent need for both sides to work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank. We also call on all parties to desist from actions, such as incitement to violence, evictions of families from their homes, demolitions, settlement advancements and the legalization of outposts. Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety and security,” Price said.

IDF soldiers, Border Police officers, and members of the elite Yamam special forces unit took part in Wednesday morning’s operation in the Kasbah of Shechem.

Terrorists opened fire on the Israeli forces, who responded in kind. Nine terrorists were killed in the gun battle, including two who were involved in the murder of Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch by terrorists last year near the town of Shavei Shomron in Samaria.

The terrorists who were killed included senior members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, as well as terrorists from several other organizations.

During the battle, Israeli security forces attempted to avoid causing civilian casualties. The IDF published footage from the scene showing a soldier declaring that he would not fire at an armed terrorist because a child was behind the terrorist.