Palestinians chanting slogans against Israel during a rally in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, in support of the West Bank Jenin camp, on Friday. Israeli forces killed on Thursday at least 9 Palestinians, including an elderly woman in West Bank. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Israeli forces conducted a massive raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday, killing at least nine people and injuring more 20 others, Palestinian officials said.
An elderly woman was among those killed in the Jenin refugee camp, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, while describing the raid as "the latest in this extremist government's heinous onslaught against the Palestinian people."
Israel said it conducted "an intel-based counterterrorism" operation to apprehend an Islamic jihad terrorist squad planning an attack for later Thursday.
The Israel Defense Forces said that its soldiers were fired upon during the operation, resulting in a battle in the streets of the refugee camp.
The Israel Foreign Ministry said eight "terrorists" were "neutralized."
"Israel will not allow Jenin to become a place of refuge for terrorists," the Israel Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Palestinian health ministry had announced the death toll, and later said a 10th person was fatally shot by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Al-ram, which is located about 60 miles south of Jenin.
The majority of those transported from Jenin camp to the hospital had sustained injuries to the head and chest, which the ministry said "means that shooting at citizens was intended to kill." At least four people were in critical condition, it said.
Palestinian officials also accused the operation of attacking ambulances and hospitals.
During a press conference, Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said Israeli forces stormed the Jenin Governmental Hospital and "deliberately fired tears gas bombs" at its children's ward, injuring sick patients, their families and medical staff.
Al-Kaila said the attacks on medical facilities amount to war crimes, while the Palestinian mission to the United Nations has requested a closed-door meeting of the security council to address the situation.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian permanent observer to the United Nations, called on the intergovernmental body to put Israel on notice "that its crimes against the Palestinian people will not be tolerated and that its insistence on this destructive, unlawful path will bring serious consequences."
"This occupation is unlawful in every manifestation, has no right to enter Palestinian homes, cities, towns, villages and camps to violently asserts its unlawful domination over our people, and it must be brought to an end," Mansour said in the letter.
The raid occurred amid rising tensions between the two sides and after Prime Minister Netanyahu returned to the helm of the country with a right-wing coalition government, which is promoting the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
It also follows a series of large-scale operations and raids conducted by Israeli forces into occupied territories.
A day earlier, a minor holding what turned out to be a imitation firearm was shot and killed by security forces in a Palestinian refugee camp in East Jerusalem during an operation to demolish the former home of a slain gunman accused of killing an Israeli soldier in October.
According to the Palestinian healthy ministry, Israeli forces have killed 30 Palestinians this year.
Tor Wennesland, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, issued a statement saying he was "deeply alarmed and saddened by the continuing cycle of violence in the West bank."
"Since the beginning of this year, we are continuing to witness high levels of violence and other negative trends that characterized 2022," he said. "It is crucial to reduce tensions immediately and prevent more loss of life."
Ned Price, U.S. State Department spokesman, said the United States mourns the loss of innocent lives and is "deeply concerned" by the continuing violence in the West Bank.
"We underscore the urgent need to de-escalate, prevent further loss of civilian life and work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank," he said in a statement. "Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely."