At least three dead as Israel launches rare airstrikes in raid on ‘militant command centre’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The Independent  /  July 3, 2023

At least six drones seen circling over Jenin as Israeli forces revive tactic.

At least three Palestinians were killed as Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin overnight, carrying out rare airstrikes that were followed by a gun battle lasting into Monday morning.

Israel targeted what it described as a “unified command centre” for militants of the Jenin Brigades in the refugee camp, in an extensive “counterterrorism effort” in the West Bank.

The military conducted airstrikes against buildings during the raid, reviving a tactic it had largely halted during the past two decades since a Palestinian uprising against Israel’s open-ended occupation slowly fizzled.

At least six drones could be seen circling over the city but the military declined to specify whether the operations included a drone strike.

The Jenin refugee camp, where hundreds of armed fighters from militant groups including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah are based, has been hit by a series of raids since the beginning of the year.

Three Palestinians were killed and 13 sustained injuries, the Palestinian health ministry said on Monday. Three of the injured remained in a critical state, the ministry added.

The sounds of gunfire and explosives were heard across the city hours after the strike as thick black smoke billowed from houses inside the refugee camp.

“What is going on in the refugee camp is real war,” Palestinian ambulance driver Khaled Alahmad told the Reuters news agency. “There were strikes from the sky targeting the camp, every time we drive in around five to seven ambulances and we come back full with injured people.”

The Israeli military said the building targeted in the strike functioned as an “advanced observation and reconnaissance centre” and a site for weapons and explosives, along with being a communications hub for militants.

It provided an aerial photograph showing what it said was the target and which indicated the building hit was near two schools and a medical centre.

The army used helicopter gunships to help extract troops and vehicles from a raid on the city after explosives were used against forces sent in to arrest two militant suspects last month.

The Jenin camp and an adjacent town have been flashpoints of the escalating violence in the West Bank over the past 15 months.

In a separate incident, a 21-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the health ministry said.

More than 140 Palestinians have been killed so far this year by Israeli fire in the West Bank, according to the Associated Press’s count, almost half of them affiliated with militant groups.

The army says that number is much higher. But civilians have also been killed, including a two-year-old in June and a 15-year-old girl in a raid on Jenin camp last week.

Last week, the UN Security Council urged Israel and the Palestinians to avoid actions that can further inflame tensions in the volatile West Bank.

The statement was backed by both the US and Russia in a moment of unity on a divisive issue, reflecting the widespread international concern at the escalating violence especially by Israeli forces and Jewish settlers.


Four killed in Israeli strikes on Jenin camp in West Bank

Ismaeel Naar & Nada al-Taher

The National  /  July 3, 2023

Israeli army claims it struck a command post of the Jenin Brigades militant group.

The Israeli army said on Monday it was striking targets in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin in an “extensive counter-terrorism” operation that the Palestinian Health Ministry says has killed four people.

Israeli military helicopters and drones were flying over Jenin and an adjacent refugee camp on Monday morning and at least nine missiles were fired at a camp in the city, sources said.

VIDEO :  Four killed in Israeli strikes on Jenin camp in West Bank (

The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least three people were killed in the air strikes. A fourth man later died after being shot in the head.

An additional 27 people have been injured, seven of whom are in a critical condition, the ministry said.

A video shared by the Israeli army showed soldiers firing a missile at home as part of the operation.

The Jenin Brigades, a local offshoot of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, also shared a clip showing what it said was an Israeli tank breaching the Jenin refugee camp and destroying vehicles.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said the raid was part of a series of planned operations and targeted a “command centre” of the “joint headquarters” of armed factions in Jenin.

“The command centre is a central location within the heart of the refugee camp and is constructed in a way that includes surrounding public facilities such as a school, clinic, food distribution centre and more, in order to protect its presence there,” he said.

Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah called the Israeli acts in Jenin and its camps a “war crime”.

The Jenin Brigades accused Palestinian intelligence of coordinating with Israeli forces to carry out Monday’s operation.

Jenin government hospital director Wissam Bakr said the hospital had been treating the injured.

“The destruction of infrastructure and blocking of roads makes the jobs of medical teams more difficult,” he said in an interview with Al-Jazeera at around 7am local time.

“Ambulances are being fired at by Israeli forces and are being hindered from reaching their targets.”

Residents reported that local mosques had been calling on people to donate blood “of any type” to the Jenin hospital.

“We have not received cases like this since the intifada in 2002,” Bakr said.

Israel’s army radio said 15 Palestinians were arrested during the operation.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry condemned Israel’s “unilateral attacks on Palestinians”, urged their immediate halt and warned that they would “lead to nothing but further violence”.

Both Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp see regular confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

Residents of Jenin said a missile fired from the air had hit a house and smoke was coming out of the wreckage.

The military said it had targeted several militant facilities, including an “advanced observation and reconnaissance centre” and a weapons and explosives site, as well as a coordination and communications hub.

The Israeli army regularly conducts raids in the area, which is nominally under the control of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

The army said the target chosen had been used as a hideout by those alleged to have carried out attacks on Israelis in recent months.

“There is bombing from the air and an invasion from the ground,” Mahmoud al-Saadi, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, told AFP.

“Several houses and sites have been bombed”, Mr Al Saadi said, adding: “Smoke is rising from everywhere.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in response to the raid that “all options” were open to strike Israel in retaliation.

Monday’s deaths bring the toll of Palestinians killed this year in the West Bank to 131, part of more than a year-long spike in violence in an area that has seen some of the worst bloodshed in nearly two decades.

In June, Israel’s military killed seven people in a raid on a Jenin camp, among them two 15-year-olds and at least one militant.

That raid also saw the army fire missiles from a helicopter, something not seen in the West Bank since 2002, during the Second Intifada, or uprising, according to one Palestinian official.

Days later, Israeli forces killed three members of a “terrorist cell” in a drone strike near Jenin, the first use of such a strike in the West Bank in years.

Ismaeel Naar is The National’s Arab Affairs Editor

Nada al-Taher is a senior foreign reporter at The National