At Least 12 Killed in Israeli Raid in West Bank, Palestinians Say


As Israeli troops pulled out after a two-and-a-half-day incursion into the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Thursday that the raid had killed at least 12 people and wounded 34 others.

Israeli raids into the West Bank have become much more frequent since the war with Hamas began more than two months ago in Gaza, with dozens made in that time, and this one was unusually long and deadly. Jenin and its refugee camp, strongholds of Palestinian armed resistance, have been common targets.

The Israeli military said on Thursday that it had disciplined three soldiers involved in filming themselves while one or more of them sang a Jewish prayer inside a mosque in Jenin. Videos of the incident, a potentially inflammatory show of disrespect, circulated widely online.

Residents reported seeing Israeli military vehicles leaving Jenin on Thursday afternoon.

The military in a statement said it had completed “a 60-hour-long extensive operation in the Jenin refugee camp and in the city of Jenin.” It reported detaining “14 wanted suspects, including three affiliated with Hamas,” as well as some 60 others, and said it had “eliminated 10 terrorists.”

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, a nongovernmental rights group, put the number of Palestinians arrested in the raid at more than 100.

Seven Israeli soldiers were lightly injured in the operation, which the military said had “exposed more than 10 underground facilities, dozens of rifles” and seven explosives labs. The raid included an Israeli drone strike on Tuesday that the military said killed several people who had fired on Israeli forces.

As Israel and Hamas wage war in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas controls, conflict has also heated up in the occupied West Bank, where Hamas does not exert control but has many backers. A recent public opinion poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found support for Hamas in the West Bank to be higher than it was before the war.

The Israeli military describes its West Bank raids as part of its counterterrorism efforts against Hamas. Jenin residents and local leaders say they are aimed at displacing residents and making conditions unlivable.

“The raids have gotten more frequent and also more aggressive and violent,” said Mohammad Al Masri, a member of the local committee that runs the Jenin refugee camp, adding: “They’ve started coming in and not differentiating between fighter and civilian.”

At least 78 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military raids in Jenin since the Hamas-led assault on Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, making it the deadliest period there in recent years.

Across the entire West Bank, the ministry says, at least 286 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7 in clashes with Israeli troops and settlers.

The videos of Israeli soldiers in the mosque undercut Israel’s efforts, through videos and social media posts, to promote its military as abiding by a moral code that includes cultural respect.

In one video, a narrator can be heard saying, “Friends, this is the mosque in Jenin.” The camera focuses on a soldier, crouched on the floor with a microphone, singing the prayer “Shema Yisrael,” a centerpiece of daily morning and evening prayers, considered by some to be the most important prayer in Judaism. In another, a soldier standing on a balcony sings the same prayer.

The Israeli Defense Forces wrote on social media that the soldiers were “removed from operational activity.” It added, “The behavior of the soldiers in the videos is serious and stands in complete opposition to the values ​​of the I.D.F.”

Even so, some in Israel expressed sympathy for the soldiers involved. “Every soldier, even if he made an error in judgment, deserves to have support,” Yuli Edelstein, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Israeli Parliament, said in a post on Facebook.

The Jenin refugee camp is a built-up, impoverished neighborhood that houses Palestinians who were forcibly displaced during the wars that surrounded Israel’s creation in 1948, as well as their descendants. Israeli raids there usually occur overnight and involve bulldozers, which have destroyed much of the area’s infrastructure.

“It’s collective punishment,” said Mohammad Sabaghi, who heads the committee that runs the camp. “There’s nothing that hasn’t been damaged or destroyed. Water, electricity, phone lines, the sewage system — everything.”

The Palestinian Authority’s health minister, Mai Al-Kaila, said in a statement on Thursday that the situation in Jenin’s hospitals was “very difficult, in light of the escalating aggression.” During the raid, she said, Israeli forces obstructed arrivals of wounded people, searching and detaining medical workers, and attacking ambulances.

The Israeli military did not respond to requests for comment on these accusations.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said that a father in Jenin had carried his 13-year-old son on foot to a hospital on Wednesday “because Israeli armored cars blocked ambulances,” adding that the boy had been pronounced dead on arrival.

Wisam Baker, the director of the Jenin Hospital, the nearest medical center to the refugee camp, said in an interview that Israeli forces had set up checkpoints outside the hospital during some raids, complicating efforts to deliver medical care to people injured in the incursions.

“It’s difficult for our medical teams to go out and come in, and difficult for patients to enter the hospital, because it’s dangerous,” he said.

Hiba Yazbek and Aaron Boxerman reported from Jerusalem, and Ephrat Livni from Washington. Christina Goldbaum contributed reporting.

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