Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday, killing seven Palestinians, including a doctor, during a major operation that involved dozens of vehicles, witnesses and Palestinian health authorities said.

The Israeli military said the operation targeted armed militants in the city, a longstanding centre for militant groups including Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, and it said a number of Palestinian gunmen were shot.

"Undercover forces raided the area suddenly and they were firing at any moving body in the street," said ambulance driver Hazim Masarwa. "They were targeting anything moving."

Heavy-tracked armoured bulldozers tore up streets near the centre of the city, protected by Israeli forces in at least 20 vehicles, as the sound of gunfire and a drone flying overhead could be heard, hours after the start of the operation, during the morning rush hour.

A teacher and a doctor, both of whom were on their way to work in the city, were among seven people killed, authorities said. There was no immediate information on the identity of the other dead or the nine wounded, as the operation continued throughout the morning.

"Jenin hospital is the main governmental hospital in Jenin and it is surrounded now," said hospital director Wissam Baker. "It looks it will be tough hours ahead because the occupation is gathering more forces."

He said the hospital's specialist surgeon was among the dead after being shot while on his way to work.

The occupied West Bank, which Palestinians want as the core of a future independent state along with Gaza, has seen a surge in violence since the start of the war in Gaza last year, and a major crackdown by Israeli security forces which have made thousands of arrests.

In the seven months since the start of the war, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, many of them armed militants fighting Israeli forces but others including stone-throwing youths or uninvolved civilians. Several have also been killed in clashes with Israeli settlers.

At the same time, Palestinians have killed more than a dozen Israelis.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Clauda Tanios; Editing by Sonali Paul, Andrew Heavens and Nick Macfie)