Israel pounds Gaza; forces withdraw from Jenin, ending two-day violence
A series of explosions were heard as Israeli forces withdrew from Jenin in the occupied West Bank following two days of violence, one of the largest military operations in recent memory.
According to the Israeli military, the air strikes were in response to five rockets fired from the Palestinian coastal enclave.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the intercepted rockets.
“The operation is officially over, and the soldiers have left Jenin,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.
After the UN rights chief called for an end to the violence meted out to Palestinans and civilians in an assault launched early Monday, Israeli forces began withdrawing from the Jenin refugee camp.
At least 12 Palestinians were martyred, an Israeli soldier was killed, and approximately 100 others were injured in the attack led by Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government.
Jenin refugee camp saw several Palestinians returning following the military withdrawal and assessing the damage.
According to a Palestinian security source, the air attack didn’t cause any injuries to the Hamas military site in northern Gaza.
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders condemned Israeli forces for firing tear gas inside Khalil Suleiman hospital in Jenin.
According to the Israeli military, the air-strike was carried out against gunmen positioned in a cemetery that posed a threat to the withdrawing troops, but denied firing at the hospital.
At a checkpoint near Jenin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “At this point, we are completing the mission, and this is not a one-time operation.”
Water, power, and medical facilities are not available
During a visit to the public hospital in Jenin, Palestinian health minister Mai al-Kaila claimed that the army shot at Palestinians.
According to the minister, “Israel’s aggression reached its climax this afternoon when three citizens were shot in the courtyard of Jenin hospital, two of them seriously,” the minister added, adding that forces seized the Ibn Sina hospital as well.
There were reports on social media that soldiers fired on a hospital.
“Security forces are not aware of the reports,” it said, adding that “terrorist organizations have used civilian areas as hiding places”.
During a general strike in Jenin, shops were shuttered and debris littered the streets.
As Jenin mayor Nidal Abu Saleh told AFP, “the most dangerous thing is what happened inside the camp, where there is no electricity, water, or roads for those who need to go to the hospital.”
Among the 12 fatalities, four were attributed to the Islamic Jihad. Five were claimed by Hamas.
The United States stressed it was imperative to avoid civilian casualties even though Israeli officials said there were no civilian deaths.
As requested by the United Arab Emirates, the UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors.
It’s time to put an end to violence
As a result of the violence in Tel Aviv and Jenin, the United Nations condemned the actions.
Daily Sabah quoted UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk as saying, “The recent operation in the West Bank and car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv bear witness to an all too familiar pattern of events: Violence only breeds violence.”.
Hundreds of people were killed, maimed, and property was destroyed, Turk said.
West Bank has been occupied by Israel since 1967. Under the Netanyahu government, which includes allies from the extreme-right, the conflict has worsened since early last year.
Israeli settlements must be dismantled and all Palestinian land seized after 1967 should be returned to the Palestinians.
However, Netanyahu has pledged to “strengthen settlements” and has no intention of reviving peace talks, which have been moribund since 2014.
AFP has compiled a list of 190 Palestinians, 26 Israelis, one Ukrainian, and one Italian killed this year.
There are civilians and combatants on the Palestinian side, and mostly civilians and three Arab minorities on the Israeli side.