Israel strikes West Bank using F-16 fighter jets in 'unprecedented escalation'

A Palestinian official told The National that the aircraft haven't been used in around two decades

Relatives and friends of Palestinians Mohhamed Abed and Mohhamed Abdallah, two men killed in an Israeli air strike at Al-Ansar Mosque in Jenin, attend their funeral in the west bank city of Jenin. EPA
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For the first time since Palestine’s Second Intifada in 2002, F-16 planes were used to strike the occupied West Bank early on Sunday, a Palestinian official told The National.

The strike, at around 2.00am, destroyed a mosque in the Jenin refugee camp in addition to a residential building nearby, Mr Hany Dabasa, the head of the Palestinian Union of the Wounded said. His organisation is a government entity that operates under the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

Two people were killed in Jenin during Sunday’s strike, he said, and four others were killed in attacks by the Israeli military and settlers in other regions of the West Bank.

The two Palestinians killed in Jenin were named Mohamed Abed and Mohamed Abdallah, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

“The use of F-16’s constitutes an unprecedented escalation in Israel’s retaliatory attacks on the West Bank which have gotten much worse since the start of the war on Gaza,” Mr Dababsa said.

There was no way to verify Mr Dababsa's claim that F-16s were used in the strike, although the aircraft were sighted over Jenin during large-scale, lethal Israeli army raids in July.

The Israeli air force said "an aircraft" had been used, without saying whether it was a drone or manned fighter-bomber, such as the F-16.

F-16s can carry a wide range of explosives, unguided and guided, including bombs up to 900kg, capable of levelling apartment blocks.

But they can also be armed with smaller explosive devices, such as the 90kg Small Diameter Bomb.

Israelis have ramped up their attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank amid a significant amount of violent rhetoric against them on social media in response to Hamas’s attack on Israel, which left 1,400 people dead.

As the death toll from Israel’s barrage on Gaza surpassed 4,700 on Sunday, more than 90 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with the military and settlers in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank said.

The Israeli military’s intention was to terrorise Palestinians and to prevent them from holding demonstrations, which have periodically broken out in the occupied territory since the start of the war.

Settlers have been armed by the military with more sophisticated weapons which they have been using in their escalated attacks on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, he said.

“They are firing live ammunition at any Palestinian walking the street even. They have orders to kill on sight,” Mr Dababsa said. “They are also using new explosive rounds that cause severe burns and uncontrollable bleeding upon detonating.”

Updated: October 23, 2023, 5:36 AM