israeli raid on west bank city kills nine palestinians officials say

The violence comes as Israel’s new far-right government has signaled even tougher actions against Palestinians. So far this year, 30 Palestinians have already been killed.

Israeli forces raided the occupied West Bank city of Jenin early Thursday, killing at least nine Palestinians, according to the Palestinian health ministry, and prompting the Palestinian Authority to suspend security coordination with Israel.

A gun battle between the Israeli troops and armed Palestinians broke out during the military raid, the Israeli Army and a local armed Palestinian group said. The Israeli military said it had responded with live rounds after coming under fire during the raid, which it said was aimed at apprehending members of the Islamic Jihad group who were involved in planning and executing multiple attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The deaths brought to 30 the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank so far this year, including at least five youths under 18. That is a particularly high toll for less than one month, even compared with 2022, when at least 166 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the deadliest year since the United Nations began tracking in 2005.

At least 20 people were injured by gunfire or tear gas inhalation on Thursday, with four in critical condition, the Palestinian health ministry said. The ministry and the Palestinian Red Crescent accused Israeli troops of storming the Jenin government hospital and firing tear gas inside the pediatric ward, but Israel denied those accusations.

The Israeli military said it had killed three people, including two “armed suspects” who were fleeing and added that it was looking into reports of additional casualties. Islamic Jihad is designated a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel.

At least one other Palestinian was killed in a separate incident on Thursday in East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, which said a man was fatally shot during confrontations with Israeli police that broke out during a protest over the killings in Jenin. The police said the man fired a firework toward them before he was shot and killed.

In response to the killings, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, said it would suspend security coordination with Israel. The move, if fully implemented, could limit communication and intelligence sharing between Israeli and Palestinian officials, reduce the Palestinian Authority’s policing of armed Palestinian groups in the West Bank, and potentially contribute to direct confrontation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces.

The Authority, which called the killings “a massacre,” also said it would file a complaint with the United Nations and ask the International Criminal Court to add Thursday’s killings to incidents previously submitted to the court.

Raneen Sawafta/Reuters

The situation in Jenin “is very critical,” said Dr. Mai al-Kaila, the Palestinian health minister. She said she had been informed by the Red Crescent that Israeli forces impeded the entry of ambulances to rescue the wounded.

The United States secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, is scheduled to visit Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank later this month.

“With both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the secretary will underscore the urgent need for the parties to take steps to de-escalate tensions in order to put an end to the cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent lives,” said a State Department statement on Thursday announcing the upcoming visit.

The violence comes as Israel’s new government, the most right-wing administration ever, has signaled even tougher actions against the Palestinians.

Jaafar Ashtiyeh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The far-right minister of national security in the new government, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees the police, has called for a relaxation of open-fire regulations for soldiers and police officers confronting Palestinians, including those seen holding stones or firebombs. He has also called for immunity from criminal investigation or prosecution for any members of the security forces acting in combat situations.

But the military leaders responsible for open-fire policies in their ranks and investigations of soldiers’ actions are opposed to such changes and so far none have been implemented.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel praised Thursday’s operation, expressing his “appreciation for the bravery and resourcefulness of the soldiers who thwarted terrorist attacks that could have cost many lives,” according to a statement issued by his office after he conferred with Israeli security officials.

The statement added that Israel was not seeking escalation, but that Mr. Netanyahu had instructed the security forces to prepare for all scenarios.

Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups have said that a loosening of the rules of engagement as well as any guarantees of immunity could lead to even more killings of Palestinians. They say that soldiers in the West Bank enjoy near total impunity already and are rarely held accountable for Palestinian deaths.

The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, called on the United Nations and international human rights groups to urgently intervene to protect Palestinians and prevent further bloodshed.

The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned “the bloody and barbaric incursion committed by the occupation forces” in Jenin. “It expresses the arrogance of the occupation and its insistence on escalating the situation in the arena of conflict,” the ministry added.

Majdi Mohammed/Associated Press

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, threatened retaliation for the raid Thursday.

“The occupation will pay the price for the massacre it carried out in Jenin,” the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, said in a statement.

Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, announced a three-day mourning period across the West Bank.

Scenes of grief gripped the city Thursday afternoon as a mass funeral procession attended by thousands of mourners made its way through the streets; the bodies of those killed held aloft, some draped in the Palestinian flag. The procession went by shuttered storefronts, closed as a general strike was announced across the West Bank in response to the killings.

In 2022, the majority of Palestinians killed were civilians, according to the United Nations and Palestinian human rights groups. The Israeli military, however, has claimed that the vast majority were involved in some form of violence that threatened Israeli lives.

The death toll rose as Israel stepped up military raids in the West Bank in the spring of 2022 after Palestinian assailants carried out a series of attacks, killing 19 Israelis and foreigners, most of them civilians, in the worst spate of killings in years.

Thirty Israeli citizens or foreign residents in Israel were killed in attacks by Palestinians in all of 2022, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials.

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