Death toll rises to 8 in Jenin West Bank raid by Israeli forces

Jenin refugee camp has been subjected to major offensives by the Israeli military engaging in battles with local militia groups [Archive/Getty]

Palestinian health officials said eight Palestinians were killed Tuesday in an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Jenin, where an AFP correspondent reported masked gunmen exchanged fire with Israeli forces.

Smoke billowed over the refugee camp adjacent to the city after a series of explosions inside, while at least five gunmen clashed with troops in a nearby downtown neighbourhood, the correspondent reported.

The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah said Israeli troops had killed eight people — raising an earlier toll of seven — and wounded nearly 20 others during the raid, which began in the morning in Jenin city.

An AFP journalist saw four bodies at Jenin’s Khalil Suleiman hospital morgue.

The Israeli military said it had launched a “counterterrorism operation” in the city, later adding that “exchanges of fire are underway between the security forces and the armed terrorists”.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that among those killed was a surgeon, Usaeed Jabareen, from the Jenin government hospital.

A school teacher and a student were also among the dead, Wafa reported, quoting hospital director Wissam Bakr.

Amer Manasra, a 25-year-old freelance journalist, told AFP he had been wounded by Israeli forces during the raid.

“I was hit in the back of my leg by a stray bullet fired by Israeli forces,” he said from a hospital bed, adding the incident had taken place near the entrance to the camp.

The Israeli army said it had raided the house of Ahmed Barakat, who was behind an attack on an Israeli civilian last year.

Meir Tamari, 32, was killed in May 2023 at the entrance to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, medics and military officials said at the time.

Following the raid, all schools in Jenin and the camp were evacuated, Wafa said.

In the afternoon, the streets near the camp were deserted, except for Israeli bulldozers moving debris.

The road between the hospital and the camp had been stripped of its asphalt by Israeli troops who said they were looking for concealed bombs.

Drones buzzed overhead and sporadic gunfire rang out.

‘Criminal mentality’

Crowds of mourners including schoolchildren gathered for the funeral of teacher Allam Jaradat.

Jaradat’s body, wrapped in the green flag of militant group Hamas, was kept at a mosque where mourners offered prayers.

“The new massacre in Jenin… is conclusive evidence of the criminal mentality that rules the occupying state and its ideological belief in killing our people,” Hamas said in a statement.

The office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned Tuesday’s raid in a statement on Wafa, saying Israel was “killing innocent people, doctors, and destroying the infrastructure of Palestinian hospitals, cities and villages”.

Jenin has long been a stronghold of Palestinian militant groups and the Israeli army routinely carries out raids into the city and adjacent camp.

The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has seen a surge in violence for more than a year, but particularly since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7.

At least 513 Palestinians have been killed in the territory by Israeli troops or settlers since the Gaza war broke out, according to Palestinian officials.

Attacks by Palestinians have killed at least 12 Israelis in the West Bank over the same period, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

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