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Israeli forces conduct major operation in West Bank’s Jenin camp, intensifying search for militants, weapons

  • Israeli forces continue their pursuit of Palestinian militants and weapons in a West Bank refugee camp, resulting in the displacement of thousands of residents and a rising death toll of Palestinians, reaching 10 over two days.
  • The large-scale raid on the Jenin camp, reminiscent of tactics used during the early 2000s Palestinian uprising, comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces pressure from ultranationalist allies for a strong response to recent attacks on Israeli settlers.
  • The camp now lies in ruins, with residents lacking basic amenities and Palestinians across the West Bank observing a general strike to protest the Israeli incursion.

Israeli troops pressed ahead with their hunt for Palestinian militants and weapons in a West Bank refugee camp Tuesday, after military bulldozers tore through alleys and thousands of residents fled to safety. The two-day Palestinian death toll rose to 10.

The large-scale raid of the Jenin camp, which began Monday, is one of the most intense military operations in the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades. It bore hallmarks of Israeli military tactics during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s and came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces growing pressure from his ultranationalist political allies for a tough response to recent attacks on Israeli settlers, including a shooting last month that killed four people.

In Tel Aviv, Israeli paramedics said at least four people were wounded when a car careened into pedestrians on a sidewalk. Police spokesman Eli Levi told Kan public radio that the incident was a deliberate attack, and that a civilian shot and killed the driver at the scene.

The Hamas militant group praised the attack as “heroic and revenge for the military operation in Jenin.”

Earlier in the day, rubble littered the streets of Jenin and there were reports of damage to shops. Columns of black smoke periodically punctuated the skyline over the camp in the northern West Bank city, long a Palestinian militant stronghold.


Jenin Mayor Nidal Al-Obeidi said that around 4,000 Palestinians had fled the Jenin refugee camp, finding accommodation in the homes of relatives and in shelters. Residents said there was no water or electricity in the camp.

Across the West Bank, Palestinians observed a general strike to protest the Israeli raid.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Tuesday that the two-day death toll rose to 10, with two more deaths reported overnight. The Israeli military has claimed all were militants, but did not provide details.

During Tuesday’s operations, the military said it had seized weapons and demolished tunnels beneath a mosque in the Jenin refugee camp.

A spokesman for the Israeli military, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Monday that Israel had launched the operation because some 50 attacks over the past year had emanated from Jenin.

Israel Palestinians

Residents of the Jenin refugee camp flee their homes as the Israeli military press ahead with an operation in the area on July 4, 2023.  (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The Jenin camp and an adjacent town of the same name have been a flashpoint since Israeli-Palestinian violence began escalating in spring 2022. It was also a hotbed of Palestinian military activity in the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli troops continued to operate in the camp, seizing weapons and explosives and destroying tunnels and command posts, the army said.

Israeli media reported that the army had arrested at least 120 suspected Palestinian militants since Monday.

The Palestinian self-rule government in the West Bank and three Arab countries with normalized ties with Israel – Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – condemned Israel’s incursion, as did the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

More than 140 Palestinians have been killed this year in the West Bank, part of more than a yearlong spike in violence that has seen some of the worst bloodshed in the area in nearly two decades. Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis have killed at least 26 people.

Israel says the raids are meant to crack down on Palestinians militants and thwart attacks. The Palestinians say such violence is inevitable in the absence of any political process with Israel and increased West Bank settlement construction and violence by extremist settlers.

Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and people uninvolved in confrontations have also died.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.

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