Eight Palestinians were killed Monday in Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank, during a vast operation by the Israeli army which mobilized hundreds of soldiers and made use of drones in particular.
During this incursion, the largest of the Israeli army in the West Bank for several years, shootings and explosions shook the city of Jenin and the adjacent refugee camp, a stronghold of Palestinian armed groups targeted several times by Israeli operations.
The new Israeli operation comes as the northern occupied West Bank has seen a recent spate of attacks on Israelis as well as anti-Palestinian violence by Jewish settlers.
“Our forces have entered the nest of terrorists in Jenin…they are destroying command centers and seizing a considerable amount of weapons,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement.
The number of troops involved is “at the level of a brigade”, Israeli army spokesman Richard Hecht said.
Palestinians were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, under a sky blackened by the smoke of explosions and burning barricades, noted an AFP correspondent.
Eight Palestinians were killed and 80 others injured – 17 of them in serious condition, according to a latest report from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
“There are aerial bombardments and an invasion on the ground,” Mahmoud al-Saadi, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Jenin, told AFP. “Several houses and sites were bombed (…) Smoke rises from everywhere.”
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry denounced “an open war against the population in Jenin.”
On Monday, the Israeli army reported clashes between soldiers and gunmen at a mosque in the Jenin camp, adding that weapons and explosives were later found there.
She also said that she had targeted “terrorist infrastructure” and an “operations center” serving as a command center for the “Jenin Brigade”, a local armed group.
“I saw bulldozers in the camp destroying houses,” resident Badr Shagoul told AFP.
At the city hospital, an AFP reporter saw bodies lying in the morgue, some for hours, as relatives waited for the funeral fighting to end.
“We received many wounded, hit by explosives from the sky, many also wounded by bullets,” said Qasem Benighader, a 35-year-old nurse. “This is the worst raid for five years.”
Military spokesman Richard Hecht said the army was “acting against specific targets” and that “the airstrike, right in the heart of the (Jenin) camp, took them by surprise”, adding that he did not there was no specific timetable for the current operation.