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Large Israeli raid in Jenin kills five Palestinians and wounds dozens

Palestinian health ministry says 15-year-old girl in critical condition after being shot in the head
An explosive charge left by Palestinians detonates by an Israeli armoured vehicle during an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on 19 June 2023 (AFP)
By Fayha Shalash in Ramallah, occupied Palestine and Elis Gjevori in Istanbul, Turkey

A large Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Monday morning has killed at least five Palestinians and wounded 91, with 18 in critical condition. 

The Palestinian health ministry named those killed as 21-year-old Khaled Azzam Darwish, Ahmed Youssef Saqr, 15, and Qassam Faisal Abu Sariya, 29 and Qais Majdi Jabareen, 21, all from Jenin. The identity of the fifth victim is not yet known.

The Palestinian health ministry also reported that a 15-year-old girl was shot in the head by Israeli forces and was transferred to Jenin Government Hospital. She is said to be in critical condition. 

At least eight Israeli soldiers were reportedly wounded, some of them seriously, according to Palestinian news site Arab48 and Israeli newspaper Haaretz, though this has not been confirmed by Israel.

Jenin has been a regular target of Israeli assaults in the West Bank over the last year. 

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Early on Monday, a large number of Israeli forces stormed the city in the northern West Bank, deploying snipers on some houses, and violent confrontations broke out in several areas, during which soldiers fired live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas, and attack helicopters were used. 

The declared aim of the raid was to arrest 36-year-old Hamas activist Assem Abu al-Haija from the Jabriyat neighbourhood in the outskirts of Jenin. After his arrest and the withdrawal of the military vehicles, Palestinian fighters detonated an explosive device under the military jeeps, which wounded several Israeli soldiers.

Banan Abu al-Haija, the sister of Assem, said that Israeli soldiers brutally stormed his house at 5am local time and arrested him. The raid took two and a half hours, she said.

"Dozens of soldiers surrounded my brother's house and blew up the main door, then spread throughout the house. They crammed his pregnant wife and two children (aged six and four) into one room and took him to another room and began field investigations with him," Banan told Middle East Eye.

She said that a large number of soldiers was deployed in the house as her brother was interrogated. They broke furniture and tore down pictures of Abu al-Haija's father, who has been jailed in Israeli prisons for 20 years, and of his brother, Hamza, who was killed by soldiers several years ago.

"They confiscated all the house's keys. The soldiers were screaming all the time and cursing his wife and children, who were crying out of fear. Then they arrested Assem and transferred him to an unknown destination," Banan said.

This is the fifth time Assem has been arrested. He was only released from Israeli prison six months ago and has been detained for a total of seven years.

'The occupation forces went crazy'

Sari Samour, 49, a resident of the al-Zahraa neighbourhood adjacent to the Jenin camp, said that warning sirens sounded in the camp after the dawn prayer ended. The sirens are usually sounded by the Palestinian resistance fighters to warn of an Israeli incursion.

After the Israeli forces met local resistance, "the occupation forces went crazy", Samor told MEE.

"They started shooting at the houses randomly. Among them was my neighbour's house, whose daughter, Sadeel, 15, was sitting in her room. Moments later, we heard a scream from their house, so we all went out to see what happened, only to find that the girl was shot in the head. She is still in serious condition and her life is in danger," he added.

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According to Jenin residents, the Israeli military reinforcements that followed were very large, coming from bases in the northern West Bank.

Israel also used Apache helicopters to strike Palestinian targets - the first time since 2006 during the Second Intifada.

"Every person who moves is shot, life is disrupted, schools are closed, even ambulances are targeted by gunfire. The large number of martyrs and wounded proves that Israeli soldiers are behaving in a crazy manner in Jenin," Samour said.

Among those wounded was a Palestinian journast, Hazem Nasser, a cameraman for Al-Ghad TV channel. 

Video of the moment Nasser, clearely marked as press, was shot is circulating online. Nasser was eventually transferred to Ibn Sina Hospital, in the West Bank. 

According to the health ministry, Nasser’s injury “ranges between medium to dangerous”.

Footage circulating online shows Israeli army vehicles coming under heavy gunfire with explosions in the background. Another video shows an Israeli military jeep facing an apparent improvised explosive device.

One clip circulating online shows an Israeli attack helicopter firing at targets in the city.

The Israeli military rarely uses aircraft in its operations in the occupied West Bank. Israeli media reported that it was the first use of an attack helicopter in the territory since the Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s.

An Israeli army spokesperson on Monday said that military forces had entered the city to arrest Palestinian suspects. During the operation, "massive exchanges of fire occurred, and improvised explosive devices were thrown at the forces who responded by firing", they said.

Tensions in the West Bank have been on the rise over the last year, with Israeli forces carrying out near-nightly raids resulting in clashes with Palestinian resistance groups. 

Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 161 Palestinians this year, including 26 children.

A total of 127 fatalities have been recorded in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and a further 34 in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians have killed at least 20 Israelis in the same period.

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