Israeli attack on Jenin a ‘new war crime’, Palestinians say

Palestinian Authority calls on international community to ‘take serious action’ as Gaza factions organise rally to express solidarity with people of Jenin.

Palestinians protest against Israeli army raid in Jenin, along Israel-Gaza border fence
A Palestinian in the besieged Gaza Strip near the fence with Israel holds a flag as he takes part in a protest against the Israeli army's raid in Jenin [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Palestinian leaders have called Israel’s largest military operation in Jenin in 20 years a “new war crime” after at least eight Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called on the international community to “break its shameful silence and take serious action”.

“What the Israeli occupation government is doing in the city of Jenin and its camp is a new war crime against our defenceless people,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement.

“The Palestinian people will not surrender or raise the white flag but will remain steadfast on their land in the face of this brutal aggression until the occupation is defeated and freedom is achieved,” he added.

Israel’s operation, which was continuing more than 18 hours after its launch, hit the city in the occupied West Bank with air attacks as well as ground raids. Media reports said more than 1,000 soldiers were involved in the operation, which Israel said was directed against “terrorist infrastructure”.

Palestinian health authorities said one of the dead was a 16-year-old while 50 others were wounded and 10 were in a critical condition.

A ninth Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli soldiers near Ramallah, also in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian foreign ministry described the Jenin operation as a “barbaric aggression”, saying it was part of Israel’s official policy “of using military force in dealing with the defenceless Palestinian people as an alternative to political solutions to the conflict”.

It called for urgent international action to “immediately stop the aggression” and urged the International Criminal Court to “start holding the Israel war criminals accountable”.

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The Palestinian ambassador to the Arab League called for an urgent meeting on Tuesday, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

The meeting will “discuss ways of effective action at the Arab and international levels to stop this Israeli aggression, hold its perpetrators accountable and request protection,” it said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian factions organised a rally in the centre of Gaza City to express solidarity with the people of Jenin.

Dozens of participants chanted slogans and held banners reading, “We are all Jenin” and “We’re with the resistance.”

The Joint Operations Room of the Palestinian Resistance Factions, an umbrella group comprising political parties in the besieged Gaza Strip, said in a statement: “We call on all our people in cities, villages and camps, especially around Jenin, to confront the Israeli occupation and support Jenin.

“We call on the resistance fighters in all arenas to respond to any aggression if the Israeli occupation continues its crimes against our people.”

Khaled al-Batsh, a senior leader in Islamic Jihad, told Al Jazeera the people of Gaza “will not abandon Jenin”.

“The Israeli occupation’s attempts to take the battle to the streets of Jenin and the West Bank would be in vain.” he said.

The Jenin refugee camp has been the target of intensifying and recurring attacks by Israeli forces over the past two years.

Along with Nablus, also in the northern occupied West Bank, it has witnessed the emergence of a new generation of Palestinian fighters resisting Israel’s decades-long military occupation.

Israel’s attacks on Jenin are part of an effort to crush resistance there, with young Palestinians increasingly taking up arms, arguing that they see no other way to fight the occupation as they grow increasingly disillusioned with what they see as the waning effectiveness of the PA, which retains largely administrative control over about 18 percent of the occupied West Bank.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies