Heavily armed Israeli soldiers storm refugee camp and leave at least 16 wounded
Jenin, occupied Palestine – At least nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, were killed in an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.
The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli forces shot dead nine people, while a further 20 were wounded. At least four of those were in a critical condition, it added.
Heavily armed soldiers entered the camp on Thursday morning, reportedly in a commercial truck, and opened fire on residents attempting to block their entry.
Several other army vehicles, including bulldozers, then entered the area and targeted a building used as a meeting place for residents.
Anas Huwaisheh, a Palestinian correspondent at a local channel in Jenin, told Middle East Eye the scenes reminded him of 2002, when the Jenin camp was invaded during the Second Intifada.
‘The sounds of bullets and gunfights were intense, and clouds of smoke covered the sky. The Israeli occupation cut off the electricity, the internet and the cell phone network during the storming. This shows that it was planned,’ Huwaisheh said.
Palestinians sounded the alarm in the camp at 7:05 am local time when they uncovered an Israeli-disguised unit in a civilian vehicle approaching the camp’s entrance, near the area of Jurat Adhab.
‘There was an exchange of fire between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli soldiers, and then more forces were pushed into the camp,’ Huwaisheh said. ‘Tens of military vehicles laid a siege around the area.’
He added that Israeli forces claimed they were targeting fighters who had barricaded themselves in a house in the camp.
‘But that’s their story. We’re all civilians and what happened today was a defence of the camp.’
Before retreating, Huwaisheh reported, Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to a senior Fatah member of al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Alaa al-Sabbagh, who was killed in 2002 by a helicopter missile in Jenin.
‘Massacre against our people’
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office said the killings were ‘a massacre from the Israeli occupation government, in the shadow of international silence’.
‘This is what encourages the occupation government to commit massacres against our people in full view of the world,’ said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Abbas.
The president declared three days of national mourning, and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast.
A general strike was also declared on Thursday across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, called on Palestinians to confront Israeli forces at checkpoints, Wafa news agency reported.
The elderly woman shot in the neck during the raid was identified as 60-year-old Magda Obaid.
The fatalaties also included Saeb Issam Mahmoud Izreiqi, 24, and Izzidin Yassin Salahat, 26.
Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh said that Red Crescent medical workers were unable to evacuate the wounded due to Israeli soldiers restricting access to the refugee camp.
He added that Israeli forces “stormed Jenin Government Hospital and intentionally fired tear gas canisters at the paediatric department in the hospital”.
Ambulance medic Murad Khamayseh, 34, told MEE: ‘It was almost impossible to go into the camp. Israeli forces fired warning shots and signalled at the team to not approach the area.’
He said emergency teams were eventually able to enter following coordination between the Red Cross and Israeli authorities. Khamayseh treated one person at the scene and another on the way to the hospital.
‘Today’s raid was one of the most violent. The Israeli forces have penetrated deeper within the camp than they have done in previous raids,’ he said.
‘As paramedics we have gotten used to this, but I honestly couldn’t keep myself together after the things I have seen today: the nature of the wounds I treated and the martyrs.”
Israel’s army confirmed reports of soldiers entering the camp, claiming that it was in response to intelligence reports about a “terror attack” being planned.
The latest killings bring the death toll of Palestinians killed this year to 29.
Israeli forces conduct near-nightly search-and-arrest operations in the West Bank, which often turn deadly.
Most of the raids in recent months have focused on Nablus and Jenin, where Israel is cracking down on a growing Palestinian armed resistance in the occupied cities.
At least 220 people died in Israeli attacks across the occupied territories in 2022, including 48 children. Of the total death toll, 167 were from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and 53 were from the Gaza Strip.