Residents say Israeli forces dropped missiles on Jenin refugee camp, killing at least two Palestinians and wounding 10 others.
Israel’s military has launched air raids on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, dropping missiles from helicopters and killing at least two Palestinians as well as wounding 10 others, according to officials and witnesses.
Residents said at least four Israeli air attacks hit buildings in Jenin early on Monday, sending smoke billowing up from the wreckage, and reported spotting a convoy of Israeli armoured vehicles moving towards the city’s vast refugee camp.
“There is bombing from the air and an invasion from the ground,” Mahmoud al-Saadi, the director of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, told the AFP news agency.
“Several houses and sites have been bombed…. smoke is rising from everywhere.”
The Palestinian health ministry said the raids killed at least two people and wounded 10, one of whom was in critical condition.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it struck a “joint operations centre”, which served as a command centre for the Jenin Brigades, a unit comprised of fighters from different Palestinian armed groups.
The raids on Monday came after Israeli forces killed three gunmen near Jenin in the first drone assault on the West Bank since 2006.
Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, said the Israeli military also announced the arrest of several “wanted Palestinians and the seizure of explosive devices”.
“Now, these are homemade Palestinian explosives that wounded eight Israeli soldiers during last month’s Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp. This was something that caught the Israeli forces by surprise and led to the use of choppers to drop missiles on Palestinians. This is the first incident of its kind that we’ve seen in the refugee camp and in the occupied West Bank in roughly 20 years,” Ibrahim said.
“Things are quite tense in the refugee camp. Ambulances cannot get to the wounded and we are expecting the number of wounded to increase,” she said.
“We know Israeli forces are trying to invade Jenin. They are still at the outskirts of the refugee camp and taking positions in houses overlooking the camp. It appears they are trying to isolate the camp from the rest of the area.”
The Israeli military said the site it attacked on Monday functioned as an “advanced observation and reconnaissance centre” and a weapons and explosives site as well as a coordination and communications hub for Palestinian fighters.
It provided an aerial photograph showing what it said was the target site and which indicated the building hit was located near two schools and a medical centre.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group, said in a statement that “all options are open to strike the enemy [Israel] in response to its aggression in Jenin”.
Israeli forces have conducted regular raids on Jenin in the northern West Bank, where groups including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have hundreds of fighters.
Violence has increased in recent months and, since the start of the year, at least 177 Palestinians, 25 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian have been killed, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources from both sides.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967.
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