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At least seven Palestinians killed as Israeli airstrikes target West Bank city of Jenin | World News

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The Israeli military has carried out airstrikes on the northern West Bank town of Jenin overnight, and large numbers of soldiers were reported in the area as part of a new and major operation to target “extensive counter-terror activity”.

The airstrikes, which started at 1.14am from armed drones, took out a target in the centre of Jenin refugee camp, close to UN-funded schools.

Further strikes have followed.

The Israeli military described the target as a Joint Operations Centre that was “used as an advanced observation and reconnaissance centre, a place where armed terrorists would gather before and after terrorist activities, a site for armament of weapons and explosives, and as a hub for co-ordination and communication among the terrorists”.

Tyres set on fire in a street

Three minutes later, at 1.17am, ground troops entered and started moving through buildings focusing on infrastructure, seizing weapons and targeting command and control.

At least seven Palestinians have been killed in the operation so far, there have been no reports of Israeli casualties yet.

An Israeli security forces vehicle drives along a road during the Israeli military operation

“We are acting against specific targets,” said the international spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Lt Col Richard Hecht, in an early morning briefing.

“We’re not here to hold ground. The focus is breaking the perceived safe-haven for terrorists. We will do it for as long as needed.”

It’s thought around 2,000 Israeli soldiers are part of the operation, and residents in Jenin have reportedly been sent text messages urging them to stay indoors and some members of militant groups have been told to lay down arms and surrender.

The Palestinian Authority and Jordan have been informed of the operation and messages sent through back channels to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, warning them not to get involved.

Read more:
Four shot dead by gunmen at West Bank service station
Three dead and 29 injured in Israeli West Bank raid

Israel will do ‘whatever we need to do to defend ourselves’

A statement from the Joint Chamber of Palestinian Resistance called on people to “activate the confrontation with the occupation, support Jenin, and teach the enemy harsh lessons in response to its aggression”.

There has been speculation for weeks that the IDF might carry out a more sustained operation in the West Bank after one of the deadliest years for decades.

Aerial vehicles fly during an Israeli military operation in Jenin,
Aerial vehicles fly during an Israeli military operation in Jenin on Monday

Members of the Netanyahu government had urged the prime minister to approve a wide scale operation across the Occupied Territories, but it seems he has opted for a more limited operation in Jenin, which has been the centre of terrorist activity in recent months.

The use of airstrikes in the West Bank is extremely rare – two weeks ago an Apache helicopter fired into Jenin during violence between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

It was the first time airstrikes had been used since the Second Intifada, almost 20 years previously.

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