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Concern has risen in the West Bank as violence escalates in recent days


An already violent year in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is getting worse. In the last few days, Israeli troops have killed several Palestinians, including a teenager. On the ground, officials are concerned about what comes next. A new Israeli government is taking office, and it's set to be the most right-wing coalition Israel has ever seen, with ultranationalists who want harsher treatment of Palestinians. NPR's Daniel Estrin joins us now from Tel Aviv. Daniel, thanks for being here. Can you just start off by giving us more details about the events of the last few days?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Well, let me tell you just about yesterday alone, Rachel. Israel says its forces were on an arrest raid. Palestinian gunmen opened fire on the soldiers, and Israeli troops killed three men. At least one may have been a militant. One reportedly was a man in his 40s on his way to work. And then somewhere else later on, Israel says soldiers opened fire at Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli cars, and Palestinian officials say a teenager was killed. And that is just one day alone, Rachel. We have seen similar incidents every few days or so. This year, Israeli troops have killed more than 140 Palestinians in the West Bank. That's the highest number in a single year in about a decade and a half. And remember, more than 30 Israelis also have been killed.

MARTIN: Why? I mean, why is this year so bad?

ESTRIN: Well, it all started - Israel's crackdown on the West Bank was launched after some deadly attacks on Israelis earlier this year. This has been going on for months. Israel has been going after Palestinian militants, confiscating guns in the occupied West Bank. And Palestinians have been organizing themselves more and more, taking up arms, actually shooting at Israeli troops during these raids. Then there's something else. We've been seeing some Israeli settlers, civilians, actually going out and, by themselves, attacking Palestinians and their property. Now, both sides here are blaming each other. Palestinian officials say to Israel, well, if you and your army don't raid our cities, then these deaths won't happen. And Israeli officials are saying, well, if you Palestinians take action against militants, we wouldn't need to carry out this crackdown. This is a vicious circle of violence, and there really is no sign of it ending.

MARTIN: Because, as we noted in the intro, Benjamin Netanyahu is returning to office as prime minister, has promised even a tougher line on Palestinians. Explain what's likely to change.

ESTRIN: Well, Netanyahu is still putting together his government, but he is set to be leading with the most far-right ultranationalist politicians on the main - on the Israeli scene. They are known for their hostility toward Palestinians. They want tougher policing of Palestinians. We hear some saying things like, well, if Palestinians throw rocks, they should be shot. This includes an incoming national security minister who has - who was convicted in Israel for supporting an anti-Arab group that is considered a terrorist group here. It includes far-right politicians in key positions who want to expand infrastructure for Israeli settlements. The U.S. is concerned about all of this rising West Bank violence, and there's a debate among officials in Washington over what actions to take with this new government.

MARTIN: NPR's Daniel Estrin reporting from Tel Aviv. Thanks, Daniel.

ESTRIN: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.