A large-scale campaign sparks tensions and violence in the occupied west bank and the Jenin refugee camp.
Medical sources confirm the loss of three Palestinian lives in the wake of Israel‘s extensive military campaign launched in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The operation began in the early hours of Monday, with Israeli airstrikes targeting multiple buildings while armored vehicles advanced towards the Jenin refugee camp. Tragically, at least three Palestinians were killed, and 27 others sustained injuries, with seven in critical condition, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
However, medical professionals on the ground suspect that the actual casualty count might be much higher. Paramedics are facing difficulties in reaching certain areas due to Israeli bulldozers blocking access. The situation has hindered their efforts to provide immediate medical assistance and assess the full extent of the damage. An official from the Jenin Governmental Hospital expressed shock, stating that they had not encountered such a high number of serious injuries since 2002.
The operation unfolded at around 1 am local time, as Israeli warplanes unleashed airstrikes on residential homes in Jenin. These initial bombings were followed by a series of at least 15 additional airstrikes, according to reports from the Israeli news website Ynet. The Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin reported a combination of airstrikes from above and a ground invasion, with several homes and sites being targeted. The resulting chaos and destruction caused smoke to billow from various locations across the city.
While the Israeli military claims that the operation is a “focused” and “extensive counterterrorism effort,” military spokesperson Daniel Hagari emphasized that their intention was not to occupy the refugee camp nor to target the Palestinian Authority (PA). The operation reportedly involves over 1,000 soldiers, including members of the army and air force, as per Israeli news website Walla. The Jenin Brigades, the city’s prominent armed group established in 2021, swiftly responded with a counter operation aimed at halting the Israeli advance.
The streets of Jenin were soon engulfed in heavy armed clashes and the sound of large explosions, reverberating even within the confines of the Jenin refugee camp. Palestinian resistance fighters launched explosive devices, likely targeting Israeli army vehicles, although no Israeli casualties have been reported thus far. Israeli armoured bulldozers were observed gradually advancing towards the Jenin refugee camp, tearing through streets to ensure they were clear of potential bombs planted by Palestinians. Israeli tanks were also spotted on the outskirts of Jenin.
In a display of defiance, unarmed civilians in Jenin took to the streets, confronting Israeli troops by burning tires and throwing rocks at army vehicles. Palestinian factions swiftly condemned the Israeli operation, holding Israel accountable for the escalation of violence. The Palestinian Joint Command, an umbrella organization comprising armed factions in Gaza, released a statement asserting that the Palestinian resistance across the board would not permit Israel to isolate Jenin through its aggressive actions. The statement also emphasized that the nature and scale of the Palestinian response would be determined by the conduct of the Israeli occupation forces.
As tensions mount, the Israeli army has taken precautions against potential rocket attacks from Gaza or Lebanon by deploying Iron Dome batteries. Meanwhile, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the Palestinian presidential spokesperson, condemned the Israeli operation as a “new war crime against our defenseless people.” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated firmly that an offensive approach against terrorism would be taken, warning that anyone who harmed Israeli citizens would face severe consequences.
Jenin has unfortunately been subjected to increased deadly Israeli attacks over the past two years, and since 2022, approximately 100 Palestinians from this northern West Bank city have lost their lives. Just two weeks prior, a previous Israeli raid resulted in at least six deaths, prompting fierce resistance from
Palestinians that necessitated the deployment of Apache attack helicopters to evacuate Israeli military vehicles stranded after an ambush orchestrated by local fighters. In a rare occurrence, an Israeli drone also carried out an aerial attack, claiming the lives of three Palestinians near Jenin, marking the first such incident in the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades.
The Jenin refugee camp, situated at the heart of the city, spans a mere half a square kilometer and is home to approximately 13,000 refugees. Tragically, it was in 2002 during the peak of the Second Intifada that Jenin experienced a 10-day military campaign by Israel, resulting in the deaths of at least 52 Palestinians. The camps were devastated, hundreds of civilian homes were destroyed, and thousands were displaced. The memories of that traumatic event still haunt the residents of Jenin to this day.