Israel launches most intense military operation in West Bank in years; at least 8 Palestinians [killed] - Associated Press

Israel on Monday launched its most intense military operation in the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades, carrying out a series of drone strikes and sending hundreds of troops on an open-ended mission into a militant stronghold. At least eight Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded.

The operation took place in the Jenin refugee camp — an area in the northern West Bank that has long been known as a bastion of militants. The fighting, which began shortly after midnight, continued past nightfall.

Throughout the day, black smoke rose from the crowded streets of the camp, a densely populated neighborhood that is home to some 14,000 people, while exchanges of fire rang out and drones could be heard buzzing overhead. Military bulldozers plowed through narrow streets, damaging buildings as they cleared the way for Israeli forces.

The military blocked traffic in and out of Jenin, and the city resembled a ghost town. Streets were empty as armored Israeli vehicles patrolled. Piles of burning tires and garbage containers littered traffic circles. Power and water supplies were knocked out in the camp.

Palestinian youths occasionally threw stones at army vehicles before darting away.

The Palestinians and three Arab countries with normalized ties with Israel – Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – condemned the incursion, as did the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Late Monday, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank held an emergency meeting and said it was halting its already limited contacts with Israel. Leaders said a freeze on security coordination would remain in place, and they vowed to step up activity against Israel in the United Nations and international bodies. They also planned to minimize contacts with the United States.

U.N. Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland warned that the escalation in the West Bank was “very dangerous.” Asked about the Israeli drone attacks on residential areas, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said: “Attacks on heavily populated areas are violations of international humanitarian law.”

Israel says it has stepped up activity because the Palestinian Authority is too weak to maintain quiet. It also accuses its archenemy Iran of funding militant groups involved in the fighting.

Palestinians reject such claims, saying the violence is a natural response to 56 years of occupation, including stepped-up settlement construction by Israel’s government and increased violence by Jewish settlers.

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed this year in the West Bank, part of more than a yearlong spike in violence that has seen some of the worst bloodshed in the area in nearly two decades.

Israel says the raids are meant to beat back militants. The Palestinians say such violence is inevitable in the absence of any political process with Israel and increased West Bank settlement construction and violence by extremist settlers.

Update July 5, 2023: The number of people killed has risen to at least 12, and the number of injured has reached to at least 140.

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Locations: Israel Palestine West Bank, Palestine Jenin, Palestine Jordan Egypt United Arab Emirates United States of America 

Organizations: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation United Nations 

People: Tor Wennesland 

Tags: Apartheid Mass Death Political Violence Drone Drone Warfare Human Rights 

Type: Headlines