Israel strikes Gaza after deadly Jenin camp raid as Arab world calls for de-escalation

Strikes and raid casts a shadow on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected trip to the region next week

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Israel carried out air strikes on Friday after Gaza militants fired rockets as tensions soared following an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank that killed 10 Palestinians in Jenin.

A 61-year-old woman was among those killed in what was the deadliest single raid in the territory for more than two decades.

The flare-up poses an early test for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government and casts a shadow on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected trip to the region next week.

The UAE condemned the Israeli forces' storming of the Jenin refugee camp on Thursday, calling on Israeli authorities to prevent the situation from escalating further.

In a statement, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation called on Israeli authorities to assume responsibility for reducing instability in the region.

“The ministry stressed the need to support all regional and international efforts to advance the Middle East peace process, end illegal practices that threaten the two-state solution and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” it said.

The GCC condemned in the “strongest terms the continued Israeli incursions into the occupied Palestinian cities and the repeated attacks on them”.

Of the five rockets fired at Israel, three were intercepted, one fell in an open area and another fell short inside Gaza, the Israeli military said. It said the air strikes had targeted an underground rocket manufacturing site for Hamas, as well as militant training areas.

The rockets set off air raid sirens in southern Israel but there were no reports of casualties on either side.

Both the Palestinian rockets and Israeli air strikes seemed limited so as to prevent escalation into a full-blown war. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller skirmishes since the militant group came to power in Gaza in 2007.

Thursday’s deadly raid in Jenin is likely to reverberate on Friday as Palestinians gather for weekly Muslim prayers that are often followed by protests. Hamas had earlier threatened revenge for the raid.

Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE President, described Israel’s actions in Jenin as “dangerous and worrying”.

“The Israeli escalation in Jenin is dangerous and worrying and undermines international efforts to advance the priority of the peace agenda,” he said in a tweet on Friday.

“The UAE, China and France moved to convene a Security Council meeting that confirms the will of the international community to give priority to peaceful solutions and to promote communication and dialogue instead of confrontations and escalation, which results in further complexity and aggravation."

Israeli troops kill nine in clash with Palestinian gunmen in West Bank

Israeli troops kill nine in clash with Palestinian gunmen in West Bank

Among those confirmed dead in Jenin was Majeda Obeid, 61, who lived a few metres from the house targeted by the Israeli forces.

Her daughter, Kefiyat Obeid, told AFP her mother was shot as she peered out of her window at the clashes.

“After she finished her prayers, she stopped for a moment to look and, as she stood up, she was hit in the neck by a bullet and she fell against the wall and then to the floor,” the 26-year-old said. Bloodstains are soaked into the rug at their home.

The Israeli military said the incursion on Jenin was aimed at Islamic Jihad militants who were allegedly behind attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians and, according to Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, were planning “to conduct a terror attack in Israel”.

Three Palestinians were shot in a firefight, while Israeli forces shot another two “fleeing the scene”, an army statement said. Israeli forces also shot a sixth suspect inside a building and other Palestinians were hit after firing on troops, the army said.

There were no casualties among Israeli forces, the military added.

The Palestinian Authority also confirmed it would halt the ties that its security forces maintain with Israel in a shared effort to contain militants. Previous threats have been short-lived, in part because of the benefits the authority enjoys from the relationship and also due to US and Israeli pressure to maintain it.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said President Mahmoud Abbas had decided to cut security co-ordination in “light of the repeated aggression against our people”. He also said the Palestinians planned to file complaints with the UN Security Council, International Criminal Court and other international bodies.

Barbara Leaf, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, said President Joe Biden's administration was deeply concerned about the situation and that civilian casualties reported in Jenin were “quite regrettable”. But she also said the Palestinian announcement that it would suspend security ties and to pursue the matter with international organisations was a mistake.

Updated: January 27, 2023, 2:25 PM