BY MAJDI MOHAMMED AND TIA GOLDENBERG
JENIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) — Israeli forces killed
at least nine Palestinians, including a 60-year-old woman, and wounded several
others during a raid in a flashpoint area of the occupied
The violence occurred during what Palestinian health
officials described as a fierce, daytime operation in the Jenin refugee camp, a
militant stronghold of the
The fighting comes weeks into
The Israeli military said it was conducting the rare daytime operation because of intelligence it had received that a militant grouping linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has a major foothold in the camp, was set to carry out imminent attacks against Israelis. A gun battle erupted, during which the military said it targeted the militants. At least one of the dead was identified by Palestinians as a militant.
Palestinian Health Minister May Al-Kaila said paramedics were struggling to reach the wounded amid the fighting. She also accused the military of firing tear gas at the pediatric ward of a hospital, causing children to choke. Video from the hospital showed women carrying children out of hospital rooms and into the corridor. The military said tear gas had likely wafted into the hospital from the clashes nearby.
Jenin hospital identified the woman killed as Magda Obaid and the Israeli military said it was looking into reports of her death. The Palestinian Health Ministry earlier identified another one of the dead as Saeb Azriqi, 24, who was brought to a hospital in critical condition after being shot, and died from his wounds. And the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade — an armed militia affiliated with Fatah, the secular political party that controls the Palestinian Authority, claimed one of the dead, Izz al-Din Salahat, as a fighter. The ministry said at least 20 people were wounded.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, condemned the violence, calling on the international community to speak out against it.
Akram Rajoub, the governor of Jenin, told The Associated Press the military prevented medical teams from evacuating the wounded and fired tear gas that seeped into the government hospital, affecting infants and interrupting surgeries. The military said forces closed roads to facilitate their operation, which may have complicated the efforts of rescue teams to reach the wounded.
“We ask that the international community help the Palestinians against this extremist right-wing government and protect our citizens,” he said.
The deaths drew condemnation from neighboring
The Islamic Jihad branch in the coastal enclave has
repeatedly fought against
“The response of the resistance to what happened today in Jenin camp will not be delayed,” warned top Hamas official Saleh Arouri.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have soared since
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year, making 2022 the deadliest since 2004, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians claim for their hoped-for state.
Israel’s new far-right government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and propped up by ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, has pledged to put West Bank settlement expansion at the top of its priority list and has already announced a series of punitive steps against the Palestinians for pushing the U.N.’s highest judicial body to give its opinion on the Israeli occupation.
Goldenberg reported from Tel