By Editor-July 3rd, 2023.
In a statement posted to Telegram in the early hours of Monday morning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it launched an “extensive counterterrorism effort in the area of the city of Jenin and the Jenin Camp,” striking “terrorist infrastructure.”
Israel said it had “dealt a heavy blow to terrorist organisations in Jenin”. Palestinians accused it of a war crime.
Jenin has seen many Israeli raids in the past year and residents have been linked to multiple attacks on Israelis.
Residents in Jenin told CNN they heard explosions and heavy gunfire in the area, while video from the scene showed wounded Palestinians being evacuated by ambulance to Jenin Government Hospital.
Footage shared with journalists appeared to show operations ongoing in parts of the Jenin refugee camp and Israeli military vehicles on the streets of Jenin on Monday morning. CNN has not been able to independently verify the videos.
The raid comes less than two weeks after an Israeli military raid on Jenin erupted into a massive firefight, leaving at least five Palestinians dead and dozens wounded. Eight Israeli troops were injured in that operation and successfully evacuated, according to the IDF.
The IDF said it struck a joint operational command center for the Jenin Camp and operatives of the Jenin Brigade, a Palestinian militant group associated with Islamic Jihad.
“The operational command center also served as an advanced observation and reconnaissance center, a place where armed terrorists would gather before and after terrorist activities,” the IDF said, adding that the camp was a “site for weapons and explosives” and “hub for coordination and communication among the terrorists.”
“Additionally, the command center provided shelter for wanted individuals involved in carrying out terror attacks in recent months in the area,” it said.
The current Israeli military operation, which appears to be one of the most extensive in the West Bank in years, began in the early hours of Monday.
A drone was used to attack an apartment in the centre of Jenin’s refugee camp, where some 14,000 people live in less than half a square kilometre.
The IDF later said its forces targeted a weapons production and explosive device storage facility and confiscated an “improvised rocket launcher” and additional weapons during the operations, which were carried out in coordination with the Israel Securities Authority (ISA).
Later on Monday, an IDF aircraft struck near a mosque “to remove a threat,” according to the IDF, without elaborating on the character of the “threat.”
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told reporters Monday that several armed “terrorist suspects” have been killed during the operation, which was ongoing as of 10 a.m. local time.
“We’re not trying to hold the ground. We’re acting against specific targets,” Hecht said.
The first round of airstrikes were launched at 1:14 a.m. local time and were followed by IDF ground forces, Hecht said.
One of the goals of the operation was to break the “safe haven” mentality within the Jenin camp, according to Hecht, who described it as a “hornet’s nest.”
Some 50 shooting attacks against Israelis have emanated from Jenin, he said.
Hecht also said the Palestinian Authority and Jordan had been informed about the incursion in advance, but didn’t elaborate further.
Though the IDF spokesman declined to comment on the number of forces involved, he said it is around a brigade, which is approximately equivalent to 500 soldiers.
Sources: CNN, BBC, news agencies.