Israeli troops launched a massive raid into the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on the morning of 19 June, resulting in the death of five Palestinians and the injury of at least 66, Palestinian media outlets reported.
The four killed have been identified as 21-year-old Khaled Assasa, 21-year-old Qais Jabareen, Ahmad Daraghmeh, 19-year-old Qassam Sariya, and 15-year-old Ahmad Saqr.
The raid began as usual, with the Israeli army storming Jenin to make arrests and facing heavy gunfire from resistance fighters.
Confrontations escalated significantly after members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) West Bank-based Jenin Brigade managed to ambush Israeli troops and detonate explosive devices targeting their military vehicles. Members of the Jenin Brigade opened fire at the vehicles following the explosions.
The Jenin Brigade named the operation “Fury of the Free.”
Israeli media outlets confirmed that seven Israeli soldiers were injured in one of the blasts, with unconfirmed reports suggesting deaths among the troops.
In a brief statement, the Jenin Brigade said: “We still have more surprises … we warn the occupation against continuing their aggression.”
As violence continued to escalate, Israeli helicopters launched airstrikes on Jenin, targeting the West Bank in an aerial attack for the first time in over 20 years.
The airstrikes were launched in order to secure the evacuation of the Israeli soldiers wounded in the resistance’s explosive attack, Israeli media said. Resistance fighters reportedly attempted to target Israeli helicopters with gunfire.
According to Palestinian media reports, the wounded Israeli soldiers remain trapped within one of the vehicles targeted in the blast.
In another brief statement, the Jenin Brigade claimed that the Israeli army was attempting to withdraw from Jenin, but the resistance was obstructing their escape from the area.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was quoted as saying, in response to the events in Jenin, that “the time has come” for Israel to launch a full-scale military operation against the resistance in the occupied West Bank, which has grown beyond unprecedented levels in the last two years.
“I will request an emergency meeting of the Security and Political Security Council,” Smotrich said.
For months, Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir have been calling for a wide-scale West Bank operation to root out ‘terrorism’ in the area.
However, the military establishment has been mulling over the idea and is conflicted, as some believe that a cost of such an operation would be too high.