Raids, Drone Strikes & Rockets: The IDF's Jenin Operation and Its Aftermath
© AP Photo / Mohammed BallasA Palestinian throws a stone toward an Israeli vehicle during clashes with Palestinians in an early morning operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
© AP Photo / Mohammed Ballas
Ten Palestinians were killed on Thursday during raids on a refugee camp in the city of Jenin, including a 61-year-old woman. It was the deadliest attack on the West Bank in two decades, according to Palestinian officials. Nine were killed in the morning hours of Thursday and the tenth during a subsequent raid on Thursday night.
In response, two rockets were fired from Gaza on Friday morning. The rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and no casualties or injuries were reported. Responding to that attack, Israel launched drone strikes at Palestinian sites in the Gaza strip. No reports have yet surfaced of injuries or casualties from either of those attacks.
Israel claims the strikes were targeting militant training areas in Gaza.
The Jenin raid that started the recent escalation of hostilities was the deadliest single event in the West Bank in at least 20 years, according to Palestinian officials. Nine of the Palestinians were killed in the morning on Thursday with the tenth being killed on Thursday night.
One of the slain was a 61-year-old woman and another is said to be a civilian. Militant groups claimed the other seven Palestinians who were killed during the initial raid. It is unclear at this time if the individual killed on Thursday night was a militant or a civilian. Israel said it was attempting to arrest militants it claims were planning “major attacks” against Israel.
The raid lasted about five hours, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) claims that Israeli forces raided the government hospital in Jenin and fired tear gas into the pediatric ward. However, Israel denies that it attacked the hospital.
In addition to the dead, at least 20 more Palestinians were injured by gunfire or tear gas inhalation, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The PA called the attack “a massacre” and said it would add it to the list of complaints it has filed with the UN International Criminal Court. PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared a three-day mourning period.
The PA has said t it will suspend its security cooperation with Israel, an already controversial practice that included the PA giving intel on suspected militants to the Israeli government.
Meanwhile, the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran strongly condemned the raid, while the US, EU, and UN called for de-escalation and dialog between the two sides.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently regained power as the head of a new far-right administration in Israel, said that Israel is not looking to escalate the situation but is prepared nonetheless.
“Netanyahu made it clear that Israel is not looking to escalate,” the Israeli government said in a statement published in The Times of Israel. “But [Netanyahu] instructed the security forces to prepare for any scenario in the various arenas to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens.”
Israeli parliament member Almog Cohen praised the raid in a highly-criticized tweet. “Nice and professional work by the fighters in Jenin, keep killing them,” the tweet read, finishing with a flexing emoji.
עבודה יפה ומקצועית של הלוחמים בג׳נין, תמשיכו להרוג בהם. 💪🏽— אלמוג כהן Almog cohen (@almog_cohen08) January 26, 2023
Meanwhile, Palestinians on the streets called the action a crime.
"What happened to [the Palestinians killed in the Jenin raid] is a crime against humanity,” Osama Mansour, 55, a local activist in Jenin, told Middle East Eye. “It’s a multi-faced crime that not only includes killing our children but attacking civilians and destroying Palestinian property.”
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on at least since before Israel was formed in 1948, which led to the first Arab-Israeli war. While Israel won that war with significant backing from the West, the conflict has been actively brewing under the surface ever since, frequently boiling over into violence for nearly three-quarters of a century.
Jenin has been the site of significant events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before. In 2002, during the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, Israel launched a full-scale incursion into the area, which became known as the Battle of Jenin. At least 52 Palestinian militants and civilians were killed, along with 23 Israeli soldiers.
The conflict more recently saw a severe uptick in violence and destruction in May 2021, when for just over two weeks both sides carried out rocket strikes until a ceasefire had been implemented.