This is a developing story. The director of Jenin Government Hospital, Wissam Abu Baker, is calling to refrain from publicizing the names of the deceased as certain have not been formally identified yet, and their families have not been informed.
18:15: The Ministry of Health has announced the death of 22-year-old Youssef Moheisen, who was shot with live ammunition in Al-Ram during confrontations that erupted between Palestinian youth and the Israeli military following the massacre in Jenin this morning, bringing today’s death toll to 10.
18:35: The office of the Palestinian Presidency has just announced that the Palestinian Authority is ending all security coordination with Israel effective immediately, and will submit the case of the massacre in Jenin to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Jerusalem24 – Noelle Mafarjeh and Nadeen Alshaer – At least nine Palestinians including a 60-year-old woman have been killed and scores of others injured, some critically, when the Israeli military launched a widescale invasion of Jenin refugee camp this morning.
Explosions and heavy gunfire can be heard on mobile phone footage shared by residents of the camp, with black plumes of smoke rising in several locations. Israeli snipers deployed to rooftops, and the army fired live ammunition, tear gas, and anti-tank missiles at residents of the camp confronting the soldiers.
Residents reported the military cut off the electricity supply to the camp.
The Jenin Education Directorate canceled school for the day, but was only able to evacuate the children who had already arrived by the time the invasion began once the military retreated after 11AM.
Palestinian Minister of Health Dr Mai Al-Kaileh issued a statement at 9:30 AM describing the situation in the camp as “very critical”, and saying the Red Crescent had informed the Ministry of a high number of casualties inside the camp they were having difficulty accessing and rescuing. At least one ambulance was directly targeted with live ammunition.The army prevented ambulance crews from accessing the camp to evacuate the injured for several hours, until the Palestinian Red Crescent coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross to appeal to the army to allow passage for emergency crews. The crews were then allowed in, but “at their own risk”, according to a statement issued by the Red Crescent, and were subsequently targeted with “warning shots”.
The Red Crescent stated they succeeded in evacuating a total of 26 injured by live ammunition as well as two suffering from tear gas inhalation.
Military bulldozers also partially destroyed a local club that serves as an emergency medical center in the camp when ambulances and medical crews are prevented access. According to Israeli media quoting the Israeli army, armed Palestinian fighters were stationed inside.
Al-Kaileh called for an urgent meeting with the International Red Cross Organization and the World Health Organization, after children were evacuated from the pediatric wing of Jenin Governmental Hospital and treated for tear gas inhalation, when the Israeli military stormed the hospital building and shot tear gas canisters inside.
The military told Israeli media the gas “had likely wafted into” the hospital.
A general strike has been declared in all governorates across the West Bank and in Gaza, with all commercial, governmental, and educational institutions closed for the remainder of the day.
Confrontations have erupted between Palestinian youth and the Israeli military in several locations across the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem following the invasion, including in Jericho, Anata, Al-Bireh, Nabi Saleh, Biddu, Azzun, Qalqilya, Al-Aroub refugee camp, Hebron, and Bethlehem.
At the time of publication, nine injuries have been reported in various locations, including critical gunshot wounds to the chest.
“They were shooting at everyone”
The military convoys of armored jeeps and bulldozers that entered the camp shortly before 7 AM were preceded by an undercover unit, which infiltrated the camp in a mock dairy delivery truck bearing a modified logo of a popular Palestinian brand. Eyewitnesses told Quds News Network that armed Palestinian fighters in the neighborhood were suspicious of the vehicle and that an exchange of fire ensued.
A local school principal told Palestine TV the camp residents woke up to the sound of explosions. “The Israeli occupation forces and vehicles were everywhere in the camp, in almost every corner and street, we heard heavy gunfire.”
“Random gunfire can be heard, the Israeli forces are shooting at kids, elderly, they’re shooting at anyone.”
The school principal described a number of students and teachers as being “trapped inside the school buildings, and staying away from the windows. “We are not able to evacuate them, we have to wait until the occupation forces withdraw from the camp, it’s too dangerous. There is a schoolgirl we know of trapped in the Zahara Secondary School for Girls.”
“Other girls were surprised by the Israeli jeeps, they had to take shelter in residents’ homes. I’ve got calls from their parents asking about them because they have no clue what’s going on. This is the most violent invasion we’ve witnessed so far.”
In addition to a barrage of heavy gunfire, residents had to contend with heavy-duty military bulldozers which wreaked havoc in the narrow streets of the camp, causing severe damage to vehicles and buildings. One car was overturned with a passenger inside, who was only lightly injured.
The Israeli military also fired anti-tank “Energa” missiles at residential buildings in several locations across the camp. The military said they were used to “flush out” armed fighters.Mobile phone footage shared online appears to show an army drone being shot down. The Israeli military has been making increasing use of weaponized drones in the occupied West Bank, most commonly to fire tear gas canisters.
Armed groups the Jenin Brigades, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and Al-Qassam Brigades all said that their fighters clashed with the Israeli military during the invasion.
“Keep killing them”
Almog Cohen, a Member of Knesset with Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party, praised the “nice and professional work” of Israeli soldiers during the invasion, enjoining Israeli soldiers to “keep killing them”.
עבודה יפה ומקצועית של הלוחמים בג׳נין, תמשיכו להרוג בהם. 💪🏽
— אלמוג כהן Almog cohen (@almog_cohen08) January 26, 2023
Presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh described the invasion of the camp as “a massacre” taking place “in the midst of a suspicious silence.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an emergency meeting this afternoon and declared three days of mourning.
Unnamed sources spoke to Al Jazeera, saying armed group the Islamic Jihad had informed mediators that “if the aggression on Jenin does not stop, all possibilities will be considered.”
According to Haaretz, in the wake of the invasion, the Israeli army’s Southern Command “is preparing for a scenario in which Hamas, Islamic Jihad or both will fire rockets from the Gaza Strip.”
Haaretz also quoted a senior military official as saying that the high number of casualties in the camp was due to the “threat level against troops,” and not due to a change in Israel’s already lax open-fire policy against Palestinians. During the invasion, “there were disturbances of hundreds and at times of thousands” of Palestinian residents in the camp, the official said.
The official also suggested the 60-year-old woman shot and killed may have been “shot by Palestinian gunmen” – a claim frequently made by the army when Palestinian women, children, or journalists are shot and killed.
The Israeli military have now shot and killed at least 29 Palestinians including at least five children since the beginning of the year – more than in the first three months combined of 2022, which itself was the deadliest year for West Bank and Jerusalemite Palestinians since the Second Intifada.
“You cannot protect yourself”
The camp’s residents have expressed contempt at Israeli army statements detailing the goals of this morning’s invasion.
“They say they target the “wanted” people, but they targeted everyone, every living thing,” Mustafa Sheta, director-general of the Freedom Theater in Jenin and a resident of the refugee camp, tells Jerusalem24. “They invaded the city and the camp in the early hours of the day when parents send their kids to school.”
While the camp residents are accustomed to near-daily raids and frequent casualties, today’s invasion harked back to the days of the Second Intifada, according to Sheta. “Every day, we expect that an invasion might happen any minute. People prepare themselves for something big, every day, but we don’t know how big it might be.”
“This is just another 2002,” says Sheta, referring to the 2002 military invasion of Jenin which left dozens dead under the rubble of hundreds of houses. “You are under attack, and you cannot protect yourself.”
Nevertheless, Sheta, who was able to evacuate the camp early this morning with his young family, says the residents will stay in the camp despite attempts “to collectively punish” them.
“It’s a reflection of our human story.”