Israel air attacks hit Gaza, escalation fears after Jenin raid

Al-Jazeera  /  January 27, 2023

UAE, France and China call for UNSC to meet on Friday as violence escalates in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel has launched multiple air attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip a day after Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians – including an elderly woman – in the Jenin refugee camp, marking one of the deadliest raids in the occupied West Bank by Israel’s military in years.

Local sources in Gaza told Al Jazeera that Israeli warplanes had hit al-Maghazi refugee camp in the centre of the territory, with at least 13 strikes in the early hours of Friday.

The al-Zaitoun neighbourhood in the south of Gaza City was also hit, as well as an open area east of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.

Witnesses and local media reported that Israeli drones fired two missiles at targets in Gaza before the fighter jets struck.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, and “cautious calm” had returned to Gaza by the morning, said Al Jazeera correspondent Maram Humaid.

The Israeli army said the air attacks on Gaza – one of the most densely populated areas in the world with 2.1 million residents – followed after two rockets were fired towards Israel at about midnight (22:00 GMT).

Air raid sirens had sounded in southern Israel as the initial two rockets were fired and then again after the Israeli air attacks.

The Israeli army said the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s air defence system and the country’s Channel 12 aired footage of Israeli interceptor missiles being launched into the night sky above the city of Ashkelon, about 12km (7 miles) north of Gaza.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rockets later on Friday.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem had earlier said that armed groups in Gaza “will continue to carry out [their] duty to defend the Palestinian people and their sanctities, and will remain the people’s shield and sword”.

The Israeli air attacks and rocket fire followed Israeli forces killing nine people during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. At least 20 people were also injured in what has been described as one of the deadliest days in the West Bank since Israel ramped up raids at the start of 2021.

A 22-year-old Palestinian man was also shot by Israeli forces in the town of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem.

Four of those injured in the raid were in critical condition, and the dead included an elderly woman who was identified as Magda Obaid by the Jenin hospital authorities.

Obaid’s family said she had been shot when she was peering out of her window.

Palestinians have described the Jenin raid as a “massacre”.

Fears of escalation

In Gaza, there were fears that the Israeli air attacks, following on from the Jenin raid, were an indication that a new conflict was going to break out, only five months after the last big Israeli assault on the blockaded territory killed at least 49 people.

“My children woke up [after the Israeli air attacks] … the sound was very loud,” Anas Abu Muailiq, who lives with his family in al-Maghazi, told Al-Jazeera. “My house and windows shook greatly, and there were flames nearby – it turned out that a resistance site near our home had been bombed.”

“These short military escalations are often a prelude to wars, and we don’t wish for that,” Abu Muailiq added. “All we want is to live in peace and stability, what is happening to us is enough.”

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Defence minister, said on Friday that the Israeli military had been ordered to “prepare for action … in case we need to continue – until quiet is restored for the citizens of Israel”.

However, with the situation calm on Friday morning, the Israeli army allowed normal routine for Israelis living near Gaza, with stores and schools opened.

Speaking from Jerusalem, Al-Jazeera’s Ilyas Karam said the Israeli assessment was that this “wave of confrontation has ended” and that the exchange of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli air attacks had “not broken the normal rules of engagement” between the two sides.

However, Karam added, the next week would be vital in determining whether violence would escalate.

In the West Bank on Thursday, people filled the streets to show solidarity with Jenin as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Abbas had cut security coordination with Israel in “light of the repeated aggression against our people and the undermining of signed agreements”. He said Palestinians planned to file complaints with the United Nations Security Council, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international bodies over Israel’s violence.

The United Arab Emirates, China and France have asked the UNSC to meet behind closed doors on Friday over the attacks, diplomats said.

Tor Wennesland, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said on Twitter he was “deeply alarmed” and “saddened” by the violence and that he was engaged with Israeli and Palestinian authorities to “de-escalate tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict”.

Israel’s far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir lauded Israeli forces on the Jenin raid, saying those who try to “harm our personnel should know that his blood is forfeit”.



Israel launches air strikes on Gaza, as rockets fired after deadly Jenin raid MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  January 27, 2023

Israeli warplanes target besieged enclave, following rocket fire intercepted by Iron Dome.

Israel launched air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip at dawn on Friday, after rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave following one of the deadliest Israeli raids on the occupied West Bank in recent years. 

Israeli warplanes fired 15 missiles on a site in Al-Maghazi refugee camp, in the centre of the enclave, causing damage to property and resulting in a power outage in the area, WAFA news agency reported. 

Warplanes also destroyed and set fire to two other sites, in the north and southeast, according to the agency.

It followed rockets being fired from Gaza towards Israel on Thursday night and into Friday morning. 

Before midnight, two rockets fired from the enclave were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system, Haaretz reported.

At around 4am, three more rockets were fired from the enclave, one of which was intercepted by the Iron Dome, while the others fell in Gaza and in an open area in southern Israel. 

The leader of the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza claimed responsibility for the rockets during a rally in the enclave on Friday. 

There were no immediate reports of injuries on either side. 

“The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip suffered a blow tonight from IDF fire in a series of attacks,” Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant tweeted

“I instructed our security forces to prepare for action with a variety of offensive measures and high-quality targets, in case it is necessary to continue to act until peace is restored to the citizens of Israel.” 

‘Massacre’ in Jenin’

The attack comes a day after a deadly Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank killed nine Palestinians and wounded 20 others. 

Several heavily armed soldiers entered the camp on Thursday morning, targeting a building used as a meeting place for residents. 

“What happened to them is a crime against humanity,” Osama Mansour, 55, a local activist in Jenin, told Middle East Eye. “It’s a multi-faceted crime that not only includes killing our children but attacking civilians and destroying Palestinian property.” 

Later on Thursday, another Palestinian was killed as Israeli forces fired at demonstrators in the town of Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, who had come out to protest against the killings.

A three-day national state of mourning, which began on Friday, was declared by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who described the raid on Jenin as “a massacre from the Israeli occupation government in the shadow of international silence”.

Abbas’s government also announced it would be stopping its controversial policy of security coordination with Israel in response to the killings.

The latest fatalities bring the number of Palestinians killed this year to 30, including at least six children.

According to data compiled by MEE, Israeli forces killed more Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2022 than in any single calendar year since the Second Intifada.

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.

55 of those killed in the West Bank last year were in Jenin – the highest of any region in occupied Palestine.