At least nine Palestinians were killed and several others injured in a fierce shootout with Israeli forces during a counterterrorism raid on the northern West Bank city of Jenin Thursday morning.
Two of the men were identified by the Palestinian health ministry as Essam Mahmoud Azriqi (24), and Salahat 'Iz a-Din, who is considered one of the most prominent militants in Jenin.
The ministry said Azriqi was brought to a hospital in critical condition after being shot, and died from his wounds. It also reported another six people injured, one of whom was in critical condition.
The Palestinian health ministry also said that an elderly Palestinian woman was also killed in the shootout. The IDF later said it "was aware of reports of a Palestinian civilian being hit" and that "the circumstances of the event are under review."
The Palestinian health minister said that "the situation in the Jenin camp is very critical, the occupation prevents aid to the wounded" and that "the Red Crescent informed us that there are many wounded people and they are struggling to rescue and evacuate them."
The IDF said forces were operating in the Jenin refugee camp, and claimed a "terror attack was thwarted," in its message. During the raid on a home in Jenin where terrorists were believed to be hiding, Israeli troops employed a so-called "pressure cooker" tactic on the building and fired a missile at it.
The IDF later said the operation was launched to "apprehend a terror squad belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization", acting on intelligence provided by the Shin Bet security agency.
Such an extensive operation in broad daylight is unusual and suggests the attack was due shortly.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians reported that the troops entered the camp with a massive force, including dozens of armored vehicles. The ministry described it as "a serious arrest operation that included shooting in all directions."
In footage from the scene, undercover Israeli soldiers can be seen entering Jenin in a milk truck.
The Palestinians also claimed that a Red Crescent ambulance was also damaged in the heavy shooting.
There were casualties reported among Israeli forces.
The director of the government hospital in Jenin charged: "The Israeli occupation forces are surrounding the hospital, firing bullets and tear gas."
The Palestinian foreign ministry appealed to the United States and the international community: "If you don't act now in the face of the brutal carnage in the Jenin camp, when will you?"
A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said "Israel is committing a massacre in the Jenin camp while the world remains silent."
Thursday’s violence brings the number of Palestinians killed this year to 26. Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year, making 2022 the deadliest since 2004, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians say they further entrench Israel’s open-ended "occupation" of lands they seek for their future state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published: 09:47, 01.26.23