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Israel’s West Bank process expelled thousands as violence extended

July 5, 2023: On Tuesday, Israel is near to achieving its Jenin operation, a senior aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the fiercest fighting in the flashpoint West Bank town in over two decades killed 10 Palestinians and forced thousands to flee.

Launched early on Monday, the raid involving hundreds of commandos and air strikes prompted the internationally backed Palestinian administration to say it was suspending contacts with Israel and stirred U.S. and U.N. humanitarian concerns.

Codenaming the operation in Jenin’s tenement-like refugee camp “Home and Garden,” Israel says the objective is to uproot Iranian-backed Palestinian factions behind a surge in gun and bomb attacks and preliminary efforts to make rockets.

A Palestinian wounded during the house-to-house clashes died overnight, and another body was found in the morning, bringing the death toll to 10, with around 100 wounded, 20 of them critically, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Islamic Jihad faction claimed four of the dead as its fighters. Hamas, another Islamist faction, claimed a fifth. It was not immediately clear if the other five fatalities – males aged 17 to 23 – were combatants or civilians.

The operation “is close to achieving the goals set,” Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanebi told Kan radio after a relative lull in the clashes overnight.

The Israeli military said it had confirmation of nine Palestinians killed by its forces. All were combatants, it said, adding that 120 suspected gunmen were detained for questioning.

Troops would be deployed to specific target areas in the camp to conduct further searches on Tuesday, chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said. “If there’s friction with terrorists – we’ll fight them too,” he tweeted.

Offices and businesses across the occupied West Bank were expected to close on Tuesday in response to calls for a general strike to protest the operation, which the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas has described as a “war crime.”

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had evacuated 500 families, or around 3,000 people, from the camp, where some 14,000 people live in less than half a square kilometer and which has been one of the focal points of a wave of violence that has swept the West Bank for more than a year.

Aid groups called on Israel to guarantee humanitarian access. The United States said on Monday it respected Israel’s right to defend itself but said civilian casualties should be avoided. The United Nations said all military operations should respect international law.

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Israel’s West Bank process expelled thousands as violence extended