Israel’s army carried out airstrikes in the West Bank overnight. The aim was “terrorist infrastructure”. According to Palestinian sources, at least seven people died. Israeli media speak of a large-scale offensive.
The Israeli military has launched an attack on the Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin. The attack was directed against “terrorist infrastructure,” the army said on Twitter that night. At least seven people were killed and around two dozen injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. It was initially unclear whether the dead were militant Islamist fighters or uninvolved residents.
The army said several targeted airstrikes during the night hit a weapons depot, a meeting place for terrorists and a command and communications center that is also used as an observation post. According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, there were power outages across Jenin. Videos showed several destroyed roads.
Stronghold of militant Palestinians
According to Israeli media reports, the airstrikes heralded a large-scale offensive called “Home and Garden”. They are the first targeted attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank in decades. Israel’s army moved into the city shortly after the airstrikes with ground troops and around 100 military vehicles.
According to Palestinian reports, violent fighting with residents then broke out. “There were aerial bombing and a ground invasion,” said Mahmoud al-Saadi, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin.
The region around Jenin and the associated refugee camp with around 17,000 inhabitants has been a stronghold of militant Palestinians for years. In addition to Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, the militant “Islamic Jihad” and the “Jenin Brigade” have also gained massive influence there in recent years.
Gallant: Prepared for any scenario
The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, condemned the Israeli operation and spoke of a “new war crime”. He called on the international community to “break its shameful silence and take serious action.”
Israeli army spokesman Richard Hecht said the operation would last “as long as necessary”. Accordingly, the army is concentrating on the refugee camp in Jenin.
According to Hecht, dozens of attacks on Israelis have been carried out by camp residents since last year. Israel’s Defense Minister Joav Galant said the army would continue to “proactively and decisively” act in Jenin. The defense apparatus is prepared for any scenario.
tense security situation
The security situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories has been tense for a long time and recently worsened again. The government, among others, has called for a large-scale military offensive. After two Palestinians killed four Israelis in the West Bank almost two weeks ago, angry Israeli settlers repeatedly used violence against Palestinians there.
Since the beginning of the year, more than two dozen people have died in attacks by Palestinians. During the same period, more than 140 Palestinians were shot dead in confrontations, Israeli military operations or after their own attacks.