Israeli security forces have recently conducted a significant operation in the city of Jenin, resulting in the destruction of roads and the elimination of a group of Hamas militants. This latest incident showcases the surge in violence across the occupied West Bank. While Hamas claims that three of its fighters lost their lives during the overnight raid, Israeli military officials assert that at least five militants were killed.
This raid serves as a poignant reminder of the heightened tensions in the West Bank following Hamas’ attacks on southern Israel last month, which triggered a formidable Israeli military offensive into Gaza. The mounting death toll in the West Bank rings alarms about the potential for the region, seized by Israel in the 1967 war, to spiral into chaos amid the conflict in Gaza.
The al-Quds Brigades, Hamas’ military wing in Jenin, released a statement detailing their hours-long engagement with Israeli forces. Describing the scene as a “torrent of fire,” they claim to have employed explosive ambushes. On the other hand, an Israeli military spokesperson reported that an armed “terrorist cell that fired at Israeli security forces” was neutralized through the use of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) aircraft. Additional terrorists who fired upon the security forces and hurled explosive devices were also taken care of.
Following the raid, the Israeli military observed some Hamas militants fleeing in vehicles and ambulances towards Jenin’s Ibn Sina hospital. At the entrance to the hospital, troops intercepted one of the vehicles. Video footage released by the Israeli military shows soldiers searching a car at the hospital and discovering M-16 rifles and ammunition. Palestinian health officials claimed that some hospital staff were ordered to evacuate the premises, with a verified video capturing their departure while raising their hands. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society accused the IDF of detaining and searching ambulance crews.
Just a week ago, Israeli forces conducted a raid in Jenin, engaging in a battle with gunmen that lasted for hours. The clash resulted in the deaths of 14 individuals, marking one of the most severe confrontations in the occupied West Bank in recent months. Since the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7th, at least 191 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank. Additionally, up to 2,000 individuals have been detained in an effort to clamp down on the violence. Israeli officials claim that these arrests have successfully thwarted several significant attacks.
It is important to note that last month’s attacks by Hamas claimed the lives of 1,200 individuals, primarily civilians, and led to over 240 people being held hostage. The Palestinian civilian population has faced the brunt of Israel’s extensive military campaign in Gaza. Health authorities in Gaza report that an Israeli bombardment and ground invasion have resulted in the confirmed deaths of over 11,500 people, with more than 4,700 of them being children.
A senior Israeli military officer recently stated that the West Bank is a significant battleground where the Israeli army has already deployed substantial forces against Hamas. The officer emphasized that if necessary, efforts would be intensified without hesitation.
In addition to the raid in Jenin, Israeli security forces encountered an attacker near Hebron who opened fire on soldiers. The attacker was successfully neutralized. On Thursday, an Israeli soldier lost his life at a checkpoint on the West Bank’s Route 60.
Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, opined that the West Bank should be dealt with in a similar manner to Gaza when it comes to Hamas. Ben-Gvir, who also leads the far-right party Jewish Power, further suggested that the Palestinian Authority holds similar views to Hamas and should face comparable measures.