Israel Launches Largest Military Operation in the West Bank Since 2002

Soldiers from the IDF pictured in 2010. Credit: Israeli Defense Forces / CC BY 2.0

Israel has initiated an extensive military campaign targeting Palestinian militants within the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. It has been described as the largest-scale military operation conducted by Israel since 2002.

Operations were initiated with drone strikes followed by the deployment of ground forces. Since then, firefights and street battles have reportedly been taking place across the area of operations.

According to Palestinian officials, eight Palestinians have lost their lives, and over 50 individuals have sustained injuries.

Israel initiates military operations in Jenin, West Bank

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated, “We have initiated an extensive counterterrorism effort in the region encompassing the city of Jenin and the Jenin Camp, targeting terrorist infrastructure.”

The IDF reportedly carried out at least 10 airstrikes, with hundreds of soldiers focusing on what they described as a militant “command and control” center, in addition to sites involved in the manufacturing of weapons and explosives.

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According to another statement by the IDF “Over the last few hours, exchanges of fire between Israeli security forces and Palestinian gunmen took place in the Jenin Camp at a mosque that is affiliated with terrorist organizations in the area.”

“Following ISA and IDF intelligence, IDF soldiers searched the underground floor of the mosque, in which armed assailants had barricaded themselves,” the statement continued. “The soldiers are currently confiscating and neutralizing the weapons.”

Palestinian reactions

Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said the “heroic Jenin camp” is “resistant to the occupation and its invasions”

Additionally, a spokesman for the Palestinian National Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, called the Israeli military operation “a new war crime against our defenseless people.”

Hamas has also weighed in on the issue. Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head Hamas’ political bureau, said “To our heroes in the West Bank, from the south to the north: this is your day, young men. Fight with all the weapons, all your anger, and with any means possible to defend our honor in Jenin.”

Hamas governs the Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian coastal enclave, whereas the Palestinian National Authority is the Fatah-controlled government body that exercises power over parts of the West Bank. The Palestinian National Authority, which is officially called the State of Palestine, lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2006.

International reactions

The US, which is Israel’s most important ally has voiced support for the ongoing military operation.

“We have seen the reports and are monitoring the situation closely,” said a spokesperson from the White House. “We support Israel’s security and right to defend its people against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.”

The UK has urged caution. “While we support Israel’s right to self-defense, the protection of civilians must be prioritized,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said. “In any military operation, we would urge the Israel Defence Forces to demonstrate restraint in its operations and for all parties to avoid further escalation in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Conversely, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and the Arab League have condemned the Israeli military operation.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani denounced the assault on Jenin as a “reckless crime and a prominent measure of state terrorism,” emphasizing that “the Zionist entity will be defeated this time as well.”

The Egyptian foreign affairs ministry took a similar stance and issued a statement affirming the country’s “complete rejection of the repeated Israeli attacks and incursions against Palestinian cities, resulting in innocent civilian casualties due to the use of excessive and indiscriminate force, and a flagrant violation of the provisions of international law and international legitimacy, especially the International humanitarian law that imposes clear and concise commitments.”

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