Nine Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp on Thursday were killed in an extended and massive three-hour-long battle with the IDF which was trying to thwart planned terror attacks as well as to capture at least three known Islamic Jihad terrorists. There were unconfirmed reports of additional Palestinian fatalities later in the day.
The operation was a joint one involving the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the IDF and the police, and could have global implications with all of the major Palestinian groups threatening various responses and Egypt trying to step in to prevent escalation into a larger war.
Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a crisis update meeting to be prepared for all eventualities via telephone with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (who is currently in the US), IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Col. Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar, IDf intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Hulia and Police Chief Kobi Shabtai.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Council Chief Tzachi Hanegbi and others also joined the deliberations.
Several public events in the South near Gaza were cancelled out of concern for potential rocket fire.
Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, including militants, who were killed in an Israeli raid, during their funeral in Jenin in the West Bank January 26, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Israel’s defense establishment is prepared for an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip in response to Thursday’s raid, a senior IDF officer said in a military reporters briefing following the conclusion of the operation.
On one hand, the officer said that “there are currently no changes to the posture of IDF forces,” and there has been no massive change, but on the other hand, later Thursday the IDF announced that it was adding one more battalion into the Jenin area at least for the coming days.
These new forces came despite that earlier this week, the Jerusalem Post learned that the IDF hopes to draw down the additional battalion it has sent into the West Bank over the last 11-months of on-and-off terror waves.
An IDF officer said, “there is no place where we will not act” to defend Israeli security,” adding that “there is no doubt that the terror cell which we hit this morning could have been defined as a ‘ticking bomb’.”
More specifically, the officer stated that the terror cell was planning substantial terror attacks against Israelis within the Green Line.
Palestinians strike down an Israeli drone
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said, “I am deeply alarmed and saddened by the continuing cycle of violence in the occupied West Bank. The deaths today of nine Palestinians, including militants and one woman, during an Israeli arrest operation in Jenin is another stark example.”
“Since the beginning of this year, we are continuing to witness high levels of violence and other negative trends that characterized 2022. It is crucial to reduce tensions immediately and prevent more loss of life,” he said.
I urge, and remain actively engaged with, Israeli and Palestinian authorities to de-escalate tensions, restore calm, and avoid further conflict.”
Helmet camera footage from the shootout in Jenin on January 26, 2023 (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit).
According to the IDF description, even entering Jenin was a struggle as the Palestinians had erected over 30 barricades covering every entry point.
In a complex operation, the IDF used various specialized construction and other vehicles to destroy or remove the barricades.
The IDF said that when it approached the residence where the three terrorists were known to be hiding out, two of them started running out of the residence while armed and were killed by IDF forces.
A third wanted terrorist willingly surrendered himself to be arrested, while a fourth armed Palestinian there attempted to engage Israeli security forces and was also killed.
IDF anti-explosive experts entered the residence and safely exploded two bombs that the terrorists had in their possession.
The IDF said that the three wanted terrorists had already participated in multiple attacks and were planning even more substantial attacks.
In addition to the IDF statement, social media reports said that a surface to surface missile was used to destroy a whole group of around five terrorists who had pinned down part of an IDF unit.
According to a senior IDF official, besides the many Palestinians who fired on the IDF, several hundred, if not a couple thousand, Palestinians were involved in public disorder.
Further, the official said that Palestinians attack IDF forces with an unusually large number of improvised explosives and Molotov cocktails.
There were also reports and video footage indicating that the IDF had tried to sneak into Jenin under the cover of using a refrigerator supply truck, but that some of the Palestinians found the truck suspicious and opened fire on it, blowing the cover.
IDF sources also said they were looking into reports that at least one elderly Palestinian female civilian had been accidentally killed during the extended firefight.
A senior IDF official said that the IDF showed significant restraint, and that given the tremendous amount of fire the Palestinians directed against it, it was impressive that so few Palestinians had died.
Channel 12 played a recording of a Shin Bet official warning a Palestinian family to leave their house safely.
There was also a video being shared on Arab social media channels showing that Palestinians shot down an IDF drone.
WATCH: Palestinians shooting down IDF drone over Jenin refugee camp in intense altercation this morning: pic.twitter.com/79ZU2zgszK
— Yonah Jeremy Bob (@jeremybob1) January 26, 2023
The incident occurred during the broader altercation.
The video of the drone being shot down shows it hovering above the refugee camp at around a height of 70-100 feet.
Several failed attempts to shoot it down can be heard in the background until after an additional shot, the drone suddenly falls straight down out of the sky and crashes into the ground.
No IDF personnel were harmed.