In a brutal assault on the Jenin refugee camp Thursday morning, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and injured over a dozen others, making it the deadliest day for Palestinians in 2023 and one of the single deadliest raids in the West Bank in years. A tenth Palestinian was killed later in the day in al-Ram during clashes with the Israeli army.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH), among those killed was an “elderly” woman identified as Magda Obaid, 61. Eight others were killed in the brutal assault on the camp.
According to Defense for Children International Palestine, two of the Palestinians killed during the raid were children. DCIP identified them as Abdallah Marwan Juma’a Mousa, 17, and Waseem Amjad Aref al-Ja’s, 16. DCIP’s reports conflict with initial reports from the MOH, which reported Mousa to be 18, and al-Ja’s to be 22.
BREAKING: Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian children in Jenin refugee camp around 9 a.m. today during an Israeli military incursion into the camp. 17-year-old Abdullah Marwan Juma'a Mousa, left, and 16-year-old Waseem Amjad Aref Abu Jaes, right. pic.twitter.com/2YQfZTcgSm
— Defense for Children (@DCIPalestine) January 26, 2023
The others were identified by the MOH as Motasem Mahmoud Abu Hasan, 40, Noor Eldin Sami Ghnaim, 25, Mohammad Sami Ghnaim, 28, Mohammad Mahmoud Subuh, 30, Saeb Izreiqi, 24, and Izzidin Salahat, 22.
The ministry reported that more than 20 people were injured, including four in critical condition. Among the injuries were gunshot wounds to the chest, abdomen, and lower extremities. “Most injuries that arrived at the hospital today were in the head and chest area,” the MOH said in a statement on Thursday evening. “This means that the shooting of live ammunition towards residents was with the intent to kill,” the statement said.
Though the identities of the remaining six slain Palestinians were being reported by local media, their names had not yet been confirmed by the MOH as of Thursday afternoon.
Minister of Health Mai al-Kaileh said in a statement that Israeli forces “hampered” ambulances from evacuating the wounded from the camp during the raid and restricted the access of medics to the camp. Local media reported that some ambulances were shot at.
Al-Kaileh added that Israeli forces fired tear gas toward the pediatric unit of the Jenin Government Hospital, causing suffocation cases from gas inhalation among patients at the hospital, including mothers and children.
“We deplore in the strongest terms what happened…in terms of a fierce and barbaric attack against medical and emergency personnel, and the obstruction of their work in transporting the injured and treating patients,” al-Kaileh said.
The raid began around 7:15 am on Thursday morning when undercover Israeli special forces entered the camp in a commercial truck. According to local sources, the special forces were targeting the apartment of Alaa Sabbagh, a former leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Fatah’s armed wing, who was killed by Israeli forces in the camp in 2002.
Sabbagh’s home was reportedly being used by a number of fighters affiliated with the Jenin Brigade, an armed resistance group from the camp composed of fighters from various political factions.
Israeli forces fired rocket launchers and other explosives at the apartment building, causing the fighters inside to respond with live ammunition. The attack on the apartment also sparked clashes in the surrounding areas, with armed fighters firing toward the Israeli troops.
Shortly after the operation began, “hundreds” of Israeli troops raided the area, with a convoy of military jeeps and bulldozers entering the boundaries of the camp. Sources told Mondoweiss that as the bulldozers moved through the streets, they destroyed cars parked in the area and “everything in their wake.”
The troops entered the camp from the north, south, and western entrances of the camp, Mohammad Abed, a local journalist, told Mondoweiss. He added that Israeli forces closed off all the entrances and exits of the camp, preventing anyone from moving in or out.
Abed said that Israeli forces “completely destroyed and ransacked” the local community center in the camp, which is used by residents for community gatherings, funerals, and other events.
He added that at least three people were killed inside the Sabbagh family apartment building. “The building is completely destroyed due to the sheer number of bombs and explosives fired toward it,” he said.
The Israeli army released a statement saying that its forces “were active in the Jenin refugee camp” under the pretext of searching for fighters with the Islamic Jihad movement. The army claimed the raid was conducted to “foil imminent attack plans” by fighters in the camp.
No Israeli forces were injured during the assault, Israeli media reported.
The local branch of the Islamic Jihad movement said its fighters responded to Israeli forces with live fire and explosives.
‘A real massacre’
Israeli forces began pulling out of the camp around noon, close to five hours after the raid began, leaving devastation and destruction in their wake.
Videos posted on social media show rubble strewn across the street of the camp, bombed out buildings, and damaged vehicles, including cars that had been flipped over by Israeli bulldozers.
“It was a massacre, a real massacre,” Abed told Mondoweiss, saying that it was “the
worst and most violent” raid he had seen on the camp in years.
“There was another raid last year on the camp that lasted several hours, but this one is not even comparable. Nine people were killed. That is not an insignificant number,” he said.
Abed added that Israeli forces were “shooting everywhere,” not just towards resistance fighters who were engaging in shootouts with the army. “They were shooting at anything that moved. This is evidenced by the 60-year-old woman who was killed. How can you explain that?”
Israeli media reported that the army was “launching an investigation” into the death of Magda Obaid, the woman who was killed.
The raid on Thursday brought the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire this month to 29. Less than 24 hours prior, on Wednesday January 25, two Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in the West Bank and Jerusalem, including 20-year-old Aref Lahlouh, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp.
2022 was one of the deadliest years for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in decades, with 173 Palestinians killed in the territory. According to Mondoweiss documentation, 34% of the total casualties in the West Bank in 2022 were from Jenin.
Provoking confrontations across Palestine
Palestinians held the funeral of the slain nine later in the afternoon where thousands participated in the procession. Mourners chanted for the martyrs and vowed to persist for freedom as armed resistance fighters shot live ammunition in the air as a symbol of continued confrontation.
The particularly high number of killings in the northern West Bank city can be attributed to the resurgence of armed resistance witnessed in the area, which the Israeli military focused its efforts on quashing last year.
However with the persistence of Israeli settler expansion in tandem with a large-scale military assault dubbed Operation Break the Wave, Palestinian confrontation continues to grow.
Since the beginning of the year, 178 acts of resistance were conducted from armed resistance groups in Jenin alone (also known as “the Wasp’s Nest“), according to the Palestinian Center for Information. This includes 42 shooting operations, while the rest range from stone throwing to impeding settler invasions into Palestinian towns and villages.
Following Thursday’s lethal assault in Jenin refugee camp, protests and clashes erupted in cities across the West Bank including Bethlehem, Ramallah, Qalqilya, Hebron, and Nablus. Additional protests by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in Akka, Nazareth, and Umm El-Fahem were also planned for later Thursday evening. Youth in Gaza also set tires aflame near the border fence with Israel in protest against the killings in Jenin, according to local news reports.
Israeli forces responded with lethal weapons against youth, leading to the death of 22-year-old Yousef Abdul Karim Muheisin, who was fatally injured by Israeli forces in the town of al-Ram outside of Jerusalem during clashes, and was pronounced dead at the Ramallah Medical Complex, raising that day’s death toll to 10, according to the MOH. The ministry also recorded four injuries in Ramallah, and two others in Qalqilya and Bethlehem. Dozens of injuries as a result of teargas inhalation and high velocity canisters were treated on the field, according to the ministry.
The first month of 2023 has witnessed a steep increase in the average number of Palestinians killed compared to previous years. With 30 Palestinians killed in the first month of 2023 according to the MOH, the new year shows an intensified escalation in the Israeli assault on Palestinians. More Palestinians were killed in January of this year than in the first three months of 2022 combined.
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