Israeli forces launch biggest military operation in West Bank’s Jenin since 2002

Israeli forces has launched what a military source said is its largest military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin in more than 20 years, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 50 others, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it launched an “extensive counterterrorism effort in the area of the city of Jenin and the Jenin Camp,” striking “terrorist infrastructure,” in a statement posted to Telegram in the early hours of Monday morning.

Residents in Jenin told CNN they heard explosions and heavy gunfire in the area, while video from the scene showed wounded Palestinians being evacuated by ambulance to Jenin Government Hospital.

Of those injured, 10 are “in serious condition,” the Palestinian Ministry of Health said early afternoon Monday. Mahmoud al-Saadi, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, said most of the injuries are “serious and in the upper part of the body,” adding the process of transferring the injured has been difficult.

Five of those killed were teenagers, the ministry said.

A ninth Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces near Ramallah in the West Bank in a separate incident, according to the health authorities.

Footage shared with journalists appeared to show operations ongoing in parts of the Jenin refugee camp and Israeli military vehicles on the streets of Jenin on Monday morning. CNN has not been able to independently verify the videos.

The raid comes less than two weeks after an Israeli military raid on Jenin erupted into a massive firefight, leaving at least five Palestinians dead and dozens wounded. Eight Israeli troops were injured in that operation and successfully evacuated, according to the IDF.

The IDF said it struck a joint operational command center for the Jenin Camp and operatives of the Jenin Brigade, a Palestinian militant group associated with Islamic Jihad.

“The operational command center also served as an advanced observation and reconnaissance center, a place where armed terrorists would gather before and after terrorist activities,” the IDF said, adding that the camp was a “site for weapons and explosives” and “hub for coordination and communication among the terrorists.”

“Additionally, the command center provided shelter for wanted individuals involved in carrying out terror attacks in recent months in the area,” it said.

The IDF later said its forces targeted a weapons production and explosive device storage facility and confiscated an “improvised rocket launcher” and additional weapons during the operations, which were carried out in coordination with the Israel Securities Authority (ISA).

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was briefed on the “progress of the operation” in Jenin, a statement from his office said Monday, adding he had “discussed future operational plans.”

Later on Monday, an IDF aircraft struck near a mosque “to remove a threat,” according to the IDF, without elaborating on the character of the “threat.”

“Exchanges of fire are currently taking place with armed gunmen adjacent to a mosque in the Jenin Camp,” according to an IDF statement made shortly after 1 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET).

Clashes have been ongoing since shortly after midnight, with the latest death toll in Jenin rising to eight, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry figures released before the airstrike near the mosque.

The IDF statement provides no clarity on whether the strike near the mosque resulted in further casualties.

In response to Monday’s attacks, Hamas called on militants in the West Bank and Jerusalem to strike Israel “by all available means,” a statement by its military wing said.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it will “perform its duty” in stopping the “massacre” in Jenin.

IDF trying to break ‘safe haven’

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told reporters Monday that several armed “terrorist suspects” have been killed during the operation, which was ongoing as of 10 a.m. local time.

“We’re not trying to hold the ground. We’re acting against specific targets,” Hecht said.

The first round of airstrikes were launched at 1:14 a.m. local time and were followed by IDF ground forces, Hecht said.

One of the goals of the operation was to break the “safe haven” mentality within the Jenin camp, according to Hecht, who described it as a “hornet’s nest.”

Some 50 shooting attacks against Israelis have emanated from Jenin, he said.

Hecht also said the Palestinian Authority and Jordan had been informed about the incursion in advance, but didn’t elaborate further.

Though the IDF spokesman declined to comment on the number of forces involved, he said it is around a brigade, which is approximately equivalent to 500 soldiers.

A spokesman said later an Israeli soldier was “slightly injured” by shrapnel from a grenade used during the incursion, and that they had been taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

Palestinian armed militants take up positions during a clash with Israeli forces in Jenin on Monday.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Monday the Israeli military is striking the “terrorism hub” that operates in the Jenin camp.

“I want to emphasize we don’t have a fight with Palestinians. Our fight is with the proxies of Iran in our region, which is mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Cohen said, accusing Tehran of trying to escalate tensions in the region.

The Jenin Brigade claimed it had severely damaged at least one Israeli military vehicle with improvised explosive devices and its militants continue to clash with Israeli forces “to prevent its advance inside the camp.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it will face its enemy “with all possible retaliation options,” in response to the Israeli operations in Jenin.

“The aggression on Jenin will not achieve its targets, Jenin will not surrender. We will face the enemy with all possible retaliation options in response to the enemy aggression on Jenin,” the militant group posted to its official Telegram channel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the large-scale Israeli military operation, calling it “a new war crime.”

“Security and stability will not be achieved in the region unless our Palestinian people feel it. What the Israeli occupation government is doing in the city of Jenin and its camp is a new war crime against our defenseless people,” he said, according to presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

Egypt also condemned the Israeli incursion, calling it an act of “aggression.”

“The Arab Republic of Egypt condemns with the strongest words the aggression conducted by the Israeli forces in Jenin city in the occupied West Bank which led to the death of 5 and the injury of 27 from the Palestinian people so far,” the Egyptian Twitter government account said.

In a separate incident, a 21-year-old man, identified as Muhammed Hassanein, was shot and killed by Israeli forces at the northern entrance of Al-Bireh near Ramallah in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health on Monday. The IDF has not yet commented on the incident.

CNN’s AnneClaire Stapleton and Mike Schwartz contributed reporting.