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Israeli forces hit Jenin’s hospitals, Netanyahu says raid not ‘one-time’ event

At least 12 Palestinians have been killed in largest Israeli military operation in occupied West Bank in years
Israeli soldiers fire tear gas canisters from an armoured vehicle during an ongoing military operation in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on 4 July 2023.
Israeli soldiers fire teargas canisters from an armoured vehicle during an ongoing military operation in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on 4 July 2023 (AFP)

Israel's raid on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin has killed at least 12 Palestinians as the military targeted the refugee camp and hospitals in the area, in what is one of the biggest military operations in the West Bank in years.

The offensive, which began on Monday and has involved drones, Apache attack helicopters and ground forces, including army bulldozers, was widely described as one of the worst Israeli attacks on Jenin in two decades.

Columns of smoke were visible and drones were seen flying over Jenin refugee camp in what appeared to be a relative lull in fighting compared to Monday.

Shelling and fighting continued in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with Israeli warplanes sighted in the occupied West Bank city and a series of explosions heard in the al-Damej neighbourhood, according to local media.

The Palestinian Authority's health ministry confirmed two deaths on Tuesday, raising the total number of Palestinians killed to 12.

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Jenin residents were pictured fleeing as teargas canisters were launched from above by Israeli forces.

Around 3,000 Palestinian civilians fled their homes in Jenin refugee camp on Monday night, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Kamal Abu al-Roub, deputy governor of Jenin, told AFP that arrangements were being made to house them in schools and other shelters across the city.

Several news reports citing Israeli sources stated that Israel was beginning to withdraw on Tuesday, while Palestinian media outlets are reporting sporadic clashes with Israeli forces.

"Israeli forces have started withdrawing from Jenin camp," an army spokesman told AFP late on Tuesday night, without offering further details.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the operation was not a one-time event, adding that Israel would "continue as long as necessary" to engage in military operations in Jenin.

Targeting hospitals

During its raid, Israeli forces also targeted hospitals, medical staff and ambulance units, according to Palestinian health minister May al-Kaila.

The minister said that Israeli forces raided the Jenin Public Hospital and opened fire, leaving three people wounded. They also raided the Ibn Sina Hospital, Kaila added.

"This aggression is an affront to international law and [demonstrates] an insistence on killing [Palestinians]," she said.

'We were at Jenin Governmental Hospital when the Israeli army attacked it'

- Latifeh Abdellatif, MEE correspondent

Israeli forces also targeted the public hospital with teargas canisters on Tuesday afternoon, according to local media, with videos showing people fleeing from the facility as smoke billowed around the building.

The Khalil Suleiman and Amal hospitals were also attacked.

Kaila said the Israeli military has repeatedly obstructed and prevented Palestinian ambulance crews from reaching the wounded.

Middle East Eye correspondent Latifeh Abdellatif was present during the attack at the Jenin Governmental Hospital, and said that Israeli forces fired teargas followed by rounds of live ammunition, wounding at least three people.

"We were at Jenin Governmental Hospital when the Israeli army attacked it with teargas fired from soldiers and from drones," said Abdellatif.

"Teargas was fired at least six times into the hospital despite patients being there who could be affected by the gas inhalation."

Abdellatif added that there were similar attacks near Ibn Sina Hospital.

General strike

Palestinian businesses were shut on Tuesday, in response to a call for a general strike to protest against the deadly offensive. 

Debris and burned roadblocks from Monday's attacks filled the quiet streets in the morning, as a handful of residents walked around and surveyed the destruction.

An official at the Jenin Governmental Hospital said the attack was one of the worst in years, adding: "We have not received this number of serious injuries since 2002."

A local resident told Middle East Eye that the buildings shelled belonged to civilians, and included the Freedom Theatre, a popular cultural centre in the city. 

Hafeth Abu Sabra, an eyewitness from Jenin refugee camp, described scenes of horror in the city's streets. 

He said Israeli forces were destroying infrastructure and public property as snipers were stationed inside armoured vehicles and on rooftops, firing live rounds at unarmed Palestinians standing near the camp's entrance. 

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"Two civilians were directly hit in front me," Abu Sabra told MEE as the sound of sniper gunshots were heard in the background during the interview.

The attack prompted condemnation from the Arab and Muslim-majority world, with Egypt, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates all criticising Israel's actions. 

Lynn Hastings, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Palestine, said she was "alarmed by the scale of Israeli forces' operation" in Jenin.

For the past two years, Israel has increased deadly raids on Jenin, killing more than 100 Palestinians from the northern West Bank city since 2022. 

The latest raid two weeks ago killed at least six people but faced fierce Palestinian resistance, with the military deploying Apache helicopters to evacuate army vehicles stuck for hours in an ambush set by local fighters.

Two days later, an Israeli drone killed three Palestinians near Jenin, in the first aerial attack in the occupied West Bank in nearly 20 years.

The Jenin camp, which lies at the heart of the city, is half a square kilometre in size and home to some 13,000 refugees.

In 2002, Israel launched a 10-day military campaign in the city that killed at least 52 Palestinians and laid waste to its camp, destroying hundreds of civilian homes and displacing thousands.

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