At least 10 Palestinians have been killed and 20 wounded, including a paramedic, as Israeli army steps up raids.
At least 10 Palestinians have been killed and 20 others injured during a raid by Israeli forces in Jenin city and refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has said.
Intense fighting was reported in the camp on Thursday. Black smoke was seen rising over the city amid multiple explosions and gunfire.
“Occasionally, you can hear gunshots, there are explosions, and you can listen to an Israeli military drone overhead,” Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reported from Jenin. “It all started in the early hours of this morning with a raid on the camp. Nothing unusual about that – raids are a fact of life in the occupied West Bank, particularly here in Jenin.”
“But we’re told the military came in and left behind special forces who were looking for Palestinian fighters. Once they were spotted, the special forces called for backup, and this major gun battle has been going on since then,” Smith said.
Israel’s military said it was conducting counterterrorism raids in Jenin, but gave no further details.
“The Israeli army will always say they are going after what they call ‘Palestinian terrorists’, and that’s the purpose of these raids. But since October 7, they have stepped up operations. While they’re happening all over the occupied West Bank, most of them are here in Jenin, where there are different armed groups,” according to Smith.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that a large number of Israeli troops entered the camp, accompanied by a bulldozer. Snipers positioned themselves on rooftops as the bulldozer proceeded to destroy roads and infrastructure.
Palestinian news outlet Quds Network posted footage of the moments after Israeli forces bombed a house in the Jenin camp.
In the video posted to social media, smoke can be seen billowing out of a building after it was hit by what the network says was an Israeli drone. Live shots were fired in the ensuing clashes.
“Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank have intensified in the last three hours,” Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom reported from Ramallah.
“Witnesses in Jenin are reporting explosions, at least five in the last half hour alone, and attribute them to armed Israeli drones,” he added.
“Israeli forces have also dropped leaflets saying that the raids will only intensify.”
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said a paramedic was injured with live bullets when an ambulance came under fire during the raid.
Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, has condemned the deadly raid on the densely populated camp, where about 14,000 people live.
“The occupation that suffers defeat in Gaza will also suffer defeat in Jenin and will not succeed in breaking the will of our people from Gaza to the West Bank,” the group said in a statement.
Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in recent months by Israeli forces in Jenin, particularly in the city’s refugee camp where armed groups are present alongside tens of thousands of residents.
Since the war began on October 7, Israeli forces have arrested more than 2,000 people across the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club advocacy group.
The Israeli military has put the figure at more than 1,000 and said most are affiliated with Hamas.
At least 174 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed across the West Bank since October 7, when Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel that killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
Since then, Israel has launched an air and ground assault on Gaza that has so far killed at least 10,812 Palestinians, including more than 4,400 children. At least 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza are now internally displaced, according to UN estimates, as large swaths of the besieged territory lie in ruins.