Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, and wounded several others during a raid in the restive West Bank city and refugee camp of Jenin on Thursday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.
The death toll makes Thursday the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in over a year, according to CNN records. It brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year to 29, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. That toll includes militants being targeted in Israeli raids, individuals who attacked Israelis, and bystanders, CNN reporting shows.
Israeli security forces said they were operating in Jenin Thursday to apprehend a “terror squad belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization,” saying in a statement that it killed three “terrorists.”
“The Islamic Jihad terror operatives were heavily involved in executing and planning multiple major terror attacks, including shooting attacks on IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians,” the joint statement from the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Security Agency and Border Police said.
The statement said two armed suspects were “neutralized” while fleeing and that a third was neutralized at the scene. Another suspect surrendered, they said.
Israeli forces reported no injuries on their side, but said they were aware of “claims regarding additional casualties during the exchange of fire” and were investigating.
The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) said Israeli forces initially prevented medics from entering Jenin camp, making it difficult to reach injured individuals, four of whom were in critical condition.
The PRC said Israeli forces also fired tear gas canisters towards the Jenin Government Hospital, causing inhalation injuries among children.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh called on the United Nations and international human rights organizations to “intervene urgently to provide protection … and stop the bloodshed of children, youth and women.”
Last year was the deadliest for both Palestinians in the West Bank and for Israelis in nearly two decades, CNN analysis of official statistics on both sides showed.
Israel’s top military officer told CNN “fighting terrorism is a complex mission,” in the wake of Thursday’s fatal Israeli raid. Herzi Halevi, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, was speaking to CNN’s Hadas Gold shortly after the raid, and before he had been fully briefed on it.
An IDF spokesperson later told CNN the military was responding to intelligence about an imminent attack.
“We went into Jenin in daylight,” the spokesperson said, underlining that the decision to operate in daylight rather than overnight, as the IDF usually does, shows how “urgent” the mission was.
When the forces arrived at the targeted building they “came under heavy fire and returned fire.”
The suspects were barricaded in a house when the IDF arrived, “so in addition the forces used an anti-tank shoulder-fired missile.”
“We are aware of reports a woman in her 60s, to our sorrow, was killed during the operation. We do not yet know on whom to assign responsibility, who fired and where she was,” the spokesperson added.
Israel is increasing its defensive posture against Palestinian militant attacks in the wake of the raid, the Ministry of Defense said.