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Israeli forces kill six Palestinians in Jenin daytime raid

Armed confrontations erupt after an undercover Israeli unit was spotted in the West Bank city
Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli troops during a raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank 7 March 2023 (Reuters)
Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli troops during a raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank 7 March 2023 (Reuters)
By Ola Marshoud in Jenin, occupied Palestine

​At least six Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces on Tuesday in the latest raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

The operation started around 3pm when an undercover Israeli unit was discovered in the Jenin refugee camp, eyewitnesses told Middle East Eye. 

Large military reinforcements followed with dozens of armoured vehicles, military helicopters, snipers, drones and bulldozers used in the raid. 

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The Israeli military withdrew from the city after nearly three hours of heavy armed clashes with Palestinian resistance fighters.

Israeli media said two soldiers were wounded in the clashes and have been taken to a hospital in Israel for treatment. 

'They hit the house with a missile, it's like a war outside, clashes and people killed everywhere'

- Jenin resident 

Among those killed in the raid is Abdel Fattah Hussain Kharousha, 49, the man Israel alleges is behind a shooting last month near Nablus city which left two Israeli settlers killed. 

Kharousha is a Hamas member who previously spent time in Israeli detention, according to local media. 

The Palestinian health ministry identified the other five killed as Mohammad Wael Gazzawi, 26, Mohammad Ahmad Khalouf, 22, Tareq Ziad Natour, 27, Ziad Amin al-Zareeni, 29, and Motasem Naser Sabbagh, 22. 

At least 26 more were wounded, three of them in critical condition, the ministry added.

The Palestine Authority (PA), which coordinates security in the West Bank with Israel, condemned the raid. 

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said: "The crime committed by the occupation forces reaffirms the Israeli government's intention to thwart all regional and international efforts aimed at stopping all unilateral actions, which the Israeli side insists on continuing." 

According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abu Rudeineh called the use of rockets and missiles to shell homes "an all-out war". 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Israeli forces who took part in the operation in a statement.

"Our brave soldiers operated with surgical precision in the heart of the murderers' den. I praise them and send well wishes to those wounded among our forces," Netanyahu said.

'We can't step a foot outside'

Sari Sammour, a Jenin-based activist, told MEE that Israeli forces surrounded more than one building and attacked them with several missiles during the raid. One of the houses has been abandoned since the first Intifada, Sammour said.  

Another building that came under attack housed Iyyad al-Azmi, the father of Amjad al-Azmi who was recently killed by Israeli forces.

"They hit the house with a missile, it's like a war outside, clashes and people killed everywhere," Mohammad al-Azmi, Iyyad's brother, told MEE. 

Iyyad was reportedly asked to surrender himself to the army. It was not immediately clear what happened to him. 

"We are stuck in the house, we can't step a foot outside. Clashes are still ongoing," Mohammad said during the raid. 

Palestinian medics and journalists said they also came under attack. 

The Palestine Red Crescent Society told local media it received several calls from inside the camp to evacuate the wounded. One Palestinian ambulance was reportedly hit with bullets and prevented from reaching people in need. 

Anas Huwaisha, a Palestinian reporter who was at the scene, told MEE he came under heavy fire from Israeli soldiers while covering the raid. He has not suffered injuries and has been forced to flee the scene.

Amid the heavy clashes, Palestinian fighters downed at least one surveillance drone, Huwaisha said.

A helicopter patrols during an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank 7 March 2023 (Reuters)
A helicopter patrols during an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank 7 March 2023 (Reuters)

The Jenin Brigade, a nascent armed group active in the northern West Bank city, and other Palestinian armed groups said earlier they were engaging Israeli soldiers in heavy armed clashes.

At the same time, another Israeli force raided parts of Nablus city and arrested three Palestinians.

Israeli officials said the target of the operation was Kharousha, saying he was responsible for killing two Israelis on 26 February while they drove their car through Huwwara town near Nablus.

The shooting was followed by a violent revenge rampage in Huwwara by hundreds of Israeli settlers living in settlements nearby. The violent riots left one Palestinian killed and dozens of homes and cars destroyed. 

Growing aggression 

Israeli forces have killed at least 71 Palestinians since January this year - which corresponds to a rate of nearly one killing every day. 

It's the bloodiest start of a year since 2000, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

At least 13 Israelis were killed by Palestinians in the same period. 

Israel-Palestine: What's driving tensions in the West Bank?
Read More »

Large military raids like the one in Jenin on Tuesday were rare in the daytime until recently. However, there has been a notable shift in the army's aggression in recent months. 

In another Jenin raid earlier this year, the Israeli military killed 10 Palestinians in a single day. Another similar large-scale operation in Nablus last month left 11 Palestinians killed, including at least four unarmed people. 

Nablus and Jenin have witnessed an uptick in armed resistance acts against Israeli targets in recent months.

With Muslim, Christian and Jewish holidays overlapping next month, many fear more deadly escalations could follow. 

CIA Director William Burns recently said current tensions in the West Bank bear an "unhappy resemblance" to the Second Intifada.

The threat of an uncontrollable outbreak of violence has prompted JordanEgypt and the US to initiate de-escalation efforts in recent months but it remains unclear if they will be able to contain the violence amid continuing Israeli attacks. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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