Nine killed in Israel attacks on Jenin camp in West Bank

Palestinian Health Authority says 100 injured as Israel uses aerial strikes and ground assault in 'counter-terrorist activities'

Israeli military kills eight Palestinians after raids on Jenin camp in West Bank

Israeli military kills eight Palestinians after raids on Jenin camp in West Bank
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The Israeli army launched one of its largest West Bank operations in decades early on Monday, which the Palestinian Health Ministry said killed nine people and wounded about 100 in the northern city of Jenin.

Military helicopters and drones flew over Jenin during the “extensive counter-terrorism” offensive, and at least nine missiles were fired at a refugee camp in the city, sources said.

The military was "carrying out intelligence-based counter-terrorist activities in the area of the city of Jenin and the Jenin Camp”, an army spokesman told The National on Monday.

Overnight, the army "carried out a precise air strike on a joint operations centre used by terrorist groups in the Jenin Camp, as well as a strike on terrorist infrastructure storing explosive devices", the spokesman said.

"A number of terrorist suspects were also apprehended by the security forces."

The military later said it discovered plants for making explosives, containing hundreds of devices and other military equipment, including one beneath a mosque.

There was no immediate response to the claim from Palestinian authorities or militant groups.

By Monday evening, Israeli reinforcements appeared to be arriving in the city.

The country's Kan public broadcaster reported that there is strong consensus among senior Israeli officials that the operation should continue.

Footage also emerged that appeared to show crowds of residents streaming out of the camp, which Palestinian media said was the result of Israeli authorities ordering people to evacuate.

Israeli officials denied its forces were undertaking such an evacuation.

Jenin has long been at the heart of Palestinian militancy in the occupied West Bank.

In recent years it and the neighbouring city of Nablus have seen the emergence of a new generation of militants with looser affiliations to traditional Palestinian armed groups.

Israeli authorities are particularly concerned that Iran, the country's arch-enemy, is funding the growth of these new groups.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Monday's operation was targeting “Iranian proxies”.

“We are striking the terrorist hub with a great strength. We don’t have a fight with Palestinians. It is with Iranian proxies in the region,” he told reporters.

“Iran’s target is to escalate in the region. Due to funds received from Iran, Jenin camp has become a centre of terrorist activity.”

In the afternoon, more than 12 hours after the operation began, Israeli forces and militants exchanged gunfire near a mosque.

A group called the Jenin Brigades claimed that they had killed several Israeli soldiers. Israel did not confirm any casualties among its ranks.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said the raid was part of a series of planned operations against a “command centre” of the “joint headquarters” of armed factions in Jenin.

“There is bombing from the air and an invasion from the ground,” Mahmoud Al Saadi, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, told AFP.

“Several houses and sites have been bombed. Smoke is rising from everywhere.”

Paramedic Hazim Masarweh told local media he was unable to reach some of the injured. “The situation is bad inside the camp,” he said. “There are people we could not evacuate.”

“We have not received cases like this since the intifada in 2002,” said Wissam Bakr, director of the Jenin government hospital.

About 3,000 Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camp have fled since the operation began Jenin deputy governor Kamal Abu Al Roub told AFP.

Mr Abu Al Roub said arrangements were being made to house them in schools and other shelters in the city of Jenin.

He said about 18,000 Palestinians reside in the camp.

Juliette Touma, spokeswoman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, confirmed to AFP that residents of the camp were leaving.

The UAE strongly condemned the attacks in Jenin, with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling for an end to repeated campaigns against Palestinians and urging Israeli authorities not to exacerbate tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The ministry called for international efforts for a ceasefire to revive the peace process in the Middle East.

Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah called the Israeli action in Jenin and its camps a “war crime”.

Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh said: “Blood shed on the ground of Jenin will determine the nature of [our response]. Our people and their resistance know how to respond to this terrorist aggression.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group based in Hamas-ruled Gaza that has exchanged rocket fire with Israel on a number of occasions this year, threatened retaliation over the Jenin operation.

Senior leader Ziyad Al Nakhalah said on Monday his organisation would “stop this massacre”.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry condemned Israel's “unilateral attacks on Palestinians”, urged their immediate halt and warned that they would “lead to nothing but further violence”.

Egypt has also denounced Israel's “repeated” attacks against Palestinians. It added that innocent victims had died due to Israel's “random and extreme use of force”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is deeply concerned about developments in Jenin, a spokesman said.

Mr Guterres "affirms that all military operations must be conducted with full respect for international humanitarian law", deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.

After an emergency meeting in Ramallah on Monday evening, chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leadership decided to end all contact with Israel.

The leaders agreed that as Israel is not abiding to the Aqaba and Sharm El Sheikh understandings, the Palestinians regard them as no longer valid.

They will also ask the UN Security Council to implement Resolution 2334 and the relevant resolutions on providing international protection to the Palestinian people, stopping unilateral measures and imposing sanctions on the occupying power.

The leaders will also call for the International Criminal Court to expedite its proceedings on referred cases.

Monday’s deaths bring the toll of Palestinians killed this year in the West Bank to 131, part of more than a year-long surge in violence in an area that has seen some of the worst bloodshed in nearly two decades.

In June, Israel's military killed seven people in a raid on a Jenin camp, among them two 15-year-olds and at least one militant.

That raid also saw the army fire missiles from a helicopter, something not seen in the West Bank since 2002, during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, according to one Palestinian official.

Days later, Israeli forces killed three members of a “terrorist cell” in a drone strike near Jenin, the first use of such a strike in the West Bank in years.

Updated: July 04, 2023, 5:26 AM