At least 9, including elderly woman, killed by Israeli forces in refugee camp "massacre"

"Israel will continue to do what it wants without punishment," said one analyst after Thursday's raid

Published January 27, 2023 3:28PM (EST)

Israeli emergency service personnel transport casualties at the site of a reported attack in a settler neighborhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, on January 27, 2023.  (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)
Israeli emergency service personnel transport casualties at the site of a reported attack in a settler neighborhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, on January 27, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

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An elderly woman was among at least nine Palestinian people killed in an early morning raid at a refugee camp in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, in what President Mahmoud Abbas denounced as "a massacre from the Israeli occupation government, in the shadow of international silence."

The woman died of a gunshot wound in her neck, Middle East Eye (MEE) reported.

Heavily armed soldiers with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) entered the refugee camp in a commercial truck and shot at residents who were trying to block them. The IDF also used bulldozers in the raid and targeted an area that was used as a meeting place for residents. According to Al Jazeera, "dozens of armored vehicles and snipers" were involved in the raid.

"The sounds of bullets and gunfights were intense, and clouds of smoke covered the sky," Anas Huwaisheh, a correspondent at a local channel, told MEE. "The Israeli occupation cut off the electricity, the internet, and the cell phone network during the storming. This shows that it was planned."

At least 20 people were injured as of this writing, including four who were in critical condition.

The raid made Thursday one of the deadliest days in the occupied West Bank since the IDF intensified its attacks early last year in response to the Palestinian resistance.

At least 29 Palestinians have now been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem this month, including five children and 15 people from Jenin.

Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila accused the IDF of obstructing ambulances as emergency workers tried to take victims to a nearby public hospital and of "deliberately [firing] tear gas bombs at the hospital's children's department, choking children."

"There is an invasion that is unprecedented... in terms of how large it is and the number of injuries," Wissam Baker, the head of the public hospital, told Al Jazeera. "The ambulance driver tried to get to one of the martyrs who was on the floor, but the Israeli forces shot directly at the ambulance and prevented them from approaching him."

The IDF denied firing tear gas at the hospital deliberately but said soldiers fired the chemicals close enough to the hospital that it could have entered the children's ward.

Murad Khamayseh, a medic, told MEE that "it was almost impossible to go into the camp" to rescue victims.

"Israeli forces fired warning shots and signaled at the team to not approach the area," Khamayseh said. "As paramedics we have gotten used to this, but I honestly couldn't keep myself together after the things I have seen today."

Political analyst Aleef Sabbagh told Al Jazeera that the raid is likely "the first shot in a coming, larger Israeli operation" and warned that without a "real, strong response" to the attack and other incidents like the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last year, "Israel will continue to do what it wants without punishment."

"The targeting of ambulances and hospitals, preventing aid to wounded people, the field executions—even the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh—there has been no accountability," Sabbagh said.

Abu Akleh was shot to death while covering an IDF raid in Jenin last May; multiple investigations have determined the Israelis were responsible for her killing, either intentionally or unintentionally, but Israel said in recent weeks it would not cooperate with a U.S. investigation into the matter.

Jewish Voice for Peace said Thursday that the Jenin raid was "the result of unrestrained violence by the Israeli military."

The group also called on the U.S. to "end its complicity in Israel's brutal violence and apartheid."

"Over and over, the Biden administration has refused to take action in response to Israel's blatant war crimes against Palestinians, all while continuing to send billions of dollars to the Israeli military," said Beth Miller, the group's political director. "Next week, Secretary Blinken is visiting Israel to continue normalizing relations with its far-right extremist and violent government. Enough is enough."

A general strike was called across the West Bank on Thursday to protest the raid at the refugee camp.

By Julia Conley

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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