Israeli forces launched a major military offensive in the occupied West Bank late Sunday night, deploying hundreds of troops in an operation likened to the large-scale campaign carried out during the second Palestinian uprising and further inflaming tensions after more than a year of escalating violence.
Palestine’s health ministry said at least five Palestinians were killed in the raid, which targeted the Jenin area in the occupied West Bank.
Another 27 people were injured in the attack, the ministry said, seven critically.
The Jenin area, which encompasses a city and a refugee camp, has long been a hub for resistance groups and has been a focal point of intensifying violence over the last year.
In a post on Telegram, Israeli forces called the attack a “focused counterterrorism operation” on an area housing a command center for local militant groups.
The Israel Defense Forces said it had also targeted a weapons production and explosives storage facility, adding that “Israeli security forces will continue to operate as necessary to thwart the threat of terrorism in the area.”
Jenin has long been a hub for Palestinian resistance and has been the target of frequent Israeli raids over the past year, including one that erupted into a large firefight in June. The area was the subject of a massive Israeli operation around 20 years ago in the aftermath of an attack during a Passover gathering that killed 30 people. The scale of the most recent operation, including the rare use of helicopter fire, has led many to draw comparisons with the older attack. The attack comes amid increasing domestic turmoil for Israel, where the government has been rocked by protests over controversial plans to overhaul the judicial system and faces increasing pressure to respond to attacks on settlers.
The Palestinian health ministry said a Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli fire in a separate incident near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
133. That’s how many Palestinians have been killed this year in the West Bank so far, according to the Associated Press. Israel claims most of those killed are militants though bystanders and protesting youths throwing stones are known to account for some of the dead. Palestinian attacks against Israelis this year have killed 24, the outlet said. The deaths are part of an uptick in violence over the past year that has been some of the worst in the area in nearly 20 years.