Smoke rises as the Israeli military conducts air raids in Jenin, the West Bank, 03 July 2023. EFE-EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

Israel launches largest military operation in West Bank in 20 years

Jerusalem, July 3 (EFE).- Israel on Monday was conducting the largest military operation in the West Bank in 20 years, leaving multiple fatalities and wounded, according to Palestinian authorities. 

Israel’s Defence Forces launched an aerial and ground offensive that was still ongoing, deploying over 1,000 soldiers in a massive overnight raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, the largest since the Second Intifada uprising (2000-2005).

The Jenin camp is considered a stronghold for Palestinian militants.

Columna de humo en la ciudad de Yenín
Smoke billows during an Israeli military operation in Jenin, West Bank, 03 July 2023. EFE/EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

At least eight Palestinians have been killed and 50 were injured, although the death toll was likely to rise “due to the presence of seriously wounded,” Palestinian health officials reported.

An Israeli military spokesman told EFE that the army had arrested some 20 Palestinians during the raid.

One soldier was slightly wounded by shrapnel after an army grenade exploded, the source added.

Israeli troops targeted a joint militant operations center, which the IDF said was also used as “an observation post, as a gathering place for armed terrorists before and after a terrorist activity, as an arming area with weapons and explosives, and as a contact and communication center,” as well as as a “shelter for wanted activists due to the attacks in recent months.”

Israeli military vehicles maneuver during a raid in Jenin, the West Bank, 03 July 2023. EFE-EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Twitter that the IDF had also destroyed a laboratory used to produce and store explosives.

The official also confirmed that a gun battle was underway near Jenin mosque.

A spokesman for the Presidency of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) condemned the military operation, which he described as “a war crime” and a “brutal aggression.”

The PNA urged the international community to take action against Israel amid its latest incursion.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stressed in a press conference that the attack on the Jenin camp was not an attack on Palestinians but an anti-terror operation. 

“I want to emphasize we don’t have a fight with Palestinians,” Cohen said. “Our fight is with the proxies of Iran in our region, which is mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

In a separate incident, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported clashes in other parts of the West Bank, and a deadly shooting in Al-Bireh near Ramallah that left a 21-year-old Palestinian dead.

The raid comes after weeks of speculation over whether Israel would launch a large-scale military operation in the West Bank amid a surge in violence.

Jenin has been targeted in multiple Israeli raids in the last year and a half.

On June 19, Israeli forces launched a 9-hour raid on the camp that left seven Palestinians dead in which the IDF used combat helicopters for the first time since 2002.

Three days later, Israeli forces launched the first drone airstrike on the West Bank since 2006 targeting three militants in a car.

This year has been the deadliest in the Palestine-Israel conflict since the Second Intifada, a five-year uprising that ended in 2005.EFE