Israel strikes mosque in occupied West Bank refugee camp

Palestinian officials say two people were killed in strike on the Al-Ansar mosque.

A mosque in the occupied West Bank's Jenin has been struck by an Israeli air strike [File: Abed Omar Qusini/Reutes]

Israel launched an air strike on a mosque in the occupied West Bank, with Palestinian officials reporting that at least two people were killed in the attack, and three others were injured.

The Israeli’ military said the strike on the Al-Ansar mosque early on Sunday killed several members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad who had been using the building as a command centre.

Israeli military officials said the “terror operatives” were organising an “imminent” attack and had been involved in several attacks in recent months.

Footage on social media appeared to show heavy damage to the mosque, located in Jenin refugee camp, and medics rushing to the scene.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said two men were killed in the strike.

Mahmoud al-Saadi, the director of the Red Crescent in Jenin, earlier said one person was killed and three others were wounded in the strike, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Al Jazeera’s Sara Khairat Saud, who is in the occupied West Bank, said the strike in Jenin took residents by surprise as it is relatively unusual for Israel to carry out aerial attacks on the territory.

“Witnesses … said they saw an F-fighter jet in the sky. They heard it and then the Israeli army came out to confirm it was an air strike,” Khairat said from Ramallah.

Following the strike, some residents received text messages on their phones warning them against collaborating with the Jenin Brigade, one of the largest and most popular groups in the West Bank. The messages advised residents to keep children inside.

The Jenin refugee camp, which is populated by descendants of Palestinians dispossessed of their land during the establishment of Israel in 1948, was the focus of a major Israeli military offensive in July that killed at least 14 Palestinians.

In separate attacks, Israeli forces killed five Palestinians in the occupied West Bank overnight. This has brought the total number of deaths since October 7 to 90, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The killings took place in  Qabatiya, Tammun, and Nablus, Wafa said, adding that three of them were shot by Israeli forces.

Dozens of Palestinians arrested

The Israeli army has also arrested at least 42 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including workers from the Gaza Strip, according to Wafa.

The arrests took place mainly in Ramallah, Hebron and Jenin among other areas, the agency reported.

Reporting from Ramallah, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid said more than 1,000 people have been taken into custody in the past two weeks as raids and the number of detentions continue to rise in the occupied West Bank.

“The standoffs that happen during Israeli raids are becoming more and more bloody and violent, adding fuel to the fire in the situation that is already quite explosive here,” she said.

The strikes and arrests in the occupied West Bank come as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza after military officials pledged to step up air raids on the enclave to minimise risks to Israeli troops in advance of an expected ground offensive.

Palestinians said they had received renewed warnings from Israel’s military to move from north Gaza to the south of the strip, with the added warning that they could be identified as sympathisers with a “terrorist organisation” if they stayed put.

“Urgent warning, to residents of Gaza. Your presence north of Wadi Gaza puts your life in danger. Whoever chooses not to leave north Gaza to the south of Wadi Gaza might be identified as an accomplice in a terrorist organisation,” the leaflet said.

At least 55 Palestinians were killed in air raids on the enclave overnight, the Hamas government said.

“Over the last 24 hours, the bombardment has intensified. The majority of casualties … brought to hospitals are civilians, with a significant number of them being children and women … the humanitarian situation is getting worse,” journalist Hani Mahmoud told Al Jazeera from Khan Younis in Gaza.

Israeli air raids have killed about 4,400 people in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies