The Israeli army carried out a raid on Monday to detain “wanted suspects” in Jeninin the northern occupied West Bank, during which there were “an intense firefightbetween their forces and armed men who left at least four deadincluding a teenager.
The clashes were very intense and a helicopter fired missiles, something that had not happened for years. “Army helicopters opened fire on gunmen to help extract the soldiers” from the area, according to a military statement. The Israeli army said troops were subjected to a “massive exchange of fire” during a detention raid in Jenin and fired back at Palestinian gunmen.
During the clashes, Palestinian militants detonated a bomb placed next to an Israeli military vehicle. At least 45 Palestinians were injured, five of them seriously. According to the Israeli army, seven members of the paramilitary border police and the army suffered minor and moderate injuries.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated: “In the last few hours, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops have entered Jenin to arrest terrorists. This is one more of the many operations carried out by the IDF, the ASI and the Border Police, during which our troops demonstrated courage and professionalism in the face of heavy fire”. He added that he will continue to “proactively fight terrorism” and use “all the tools” at his disposal.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the dead as Khaled Asasa, 21, Qassam Abu Sariya, 29, Qais Jabarin, 21, and Ahmed Saqr, 15and said at least five other people remained in serious condition after being injured in the shooting.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said that hours after the initial shooting, the army had deployed troops to extract personnel pinned down in five disabled vehicles at the site, describing it as an evacuation operation. “We are bringing in heavy equipment to get these vehicles out,” Hecht told reporters.
The militants’ use of a roadside bomb in the West Bank was “very unusual and dramatic,” Hecht said, adding that it could affect future military strategy in the territory.
The Israeli army rarely uses aircraft in its operations in the occupied West Bank. Israeli media reported that it was the first use of an attack helicopter in the territory since the Palestinian uprising of the early 2000s.
Hussein al-Shekh, a senior Palestinian official, accused Israel of waging “a fierce and open war” against the Palestinian people and claimed that President Mahmud Abbas would take “unprecedented decisions” at an upcoming emergency meeting.
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned what it called the “continued Israeli escalation against the Palestinians”, saying it only further exacerbated the situation and undermined efforts to de-escalate regional tensions.
Israel and the Palestinians have been mired in violence for months, focused mainly on the West Bank, where 124 Palestinians have been killed this year. The city of Jenin has been a hotbed of Palestinian militancy.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians claim those territories for a future independent state.
Israel has been making almost daily incursions into the West Bank in response to a spate of Palestinian violence early last year.. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have increased during that time.
Israel says most of the dead were militants, but youth stone-throwers protesting the incursions and others unconnected to the clashes have also been killed. Palestinian attacks on Israelis have killed at least 20 people this year.
(With information from AP)
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