Middle East

Huge firefight erupts as Israeli forces raid Jenin, leaving 4 Palestinians dead

By Kareem Khadder, Hadas Gold and Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Jerusalem CNN  —  An Israeli raid into one of the tensest cities in the occupied West Bank erupted Monday into a massive firefight, leaving at least four Palestinians dead and dozens wounded as the Israeli military struggled to rescue troops under heavy fire.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said of the four dead, one was a teenager. At least 45 were wounded in the clashes, the ministry said. Seven Israeli troops were injured and successfully evacuated, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Israeli Air Force attack helicopters opened fire from the skies over Jenin to help Israeli troops leave the city, the IDF said.

Eight hours after the attempted undercover operation to arrest two suspects was launched, some Israeli soldiers were still awaiting an extraction that the IDF said would be “very harsh.”

IDF International Spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the soldiers are “not trapped” and have “moved to other protected vehicles involved in the extraction.”

He noted at least five vehicles are stuck, adding: “It’s not looking good. It’s going to take a few hours. It’s going to be pretty harsh.”

It was the first time since the Second Intifada that Israeli helicopters had opened fire while evacuating wounded troops, Israel Army Radio reported. The Second Intifada – a major Palestinian uprising – ended in 2005.

Smoke billows over the occupied West Bank city of Jenin Monday, where heavy fighting broke out following an Israeli incursion.
This was the first time since the Second Intifada that Israeli helicopters had opened fire while evacuating wounded troops, Israel Army Radio reported.

The Jenin Brigade, a locally based militant group, said its fighters had fired at an Israeli helicopter, forcing it to retreat, and said they had managed to immobilize Israeli military vehicles with gunfire and ambushes.

The firefight was still ongoing as of 12:30 p.m local time (5:30 a.m. ET), Hecht said, seven and a half hours after Palestinian sources in Jenin said it began.

He said they army “is aware of a big number of Palestinians hit” and will know more details in the coming hours.

The Palestinians killed included three people in their 20s: Khalid Azam Asa’asa, 21, Qasam Faisal Abu Seriya, 29, Qais Majdi Adel Jabareen, 21 and teenager Ahmed Youssef Saqer, who was 15, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

A Palestinian girl also sustained a critical head injury, the ministry added.

Of the seven Israeli troops wounded, two are IDF soldiers and five are Israel Border Police officers. Three were moderately injured and four were lightly injured.

In a statement Sheba Medical Center said one of the injured in moderate condition is “being treated in a shock room by the medical teams at the emergency medicine center.”

The Israeli incursion also involved an undercover Israel Border Police unit called Yamas, Israel Police said Monday.

The IDF and Border Police said “a massive exchange of fire took place,” during the arrest operation.

They were attacked with gunfire and hurled explosive devices and responded with live fire, hitting people, the IDF said.

Hecht, the IDF spokesperson, said a Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle was hit by a “pretty advanced” improvised explosive device.

“The scale of the IED is an issue. We are still looking into it,” he said. “It’s pretty unusual and dramatic. It will affect how we do business.”

He said troops came under a “massive amount of gunfire” in addition to the explosives, but was unable to clarify exactly how the seven injured forces were hit, whether by the IED or other fire.

An Apache helicopter was used to fire on open areas to provide cover while some of the rescue operations were underway, Hecht said, adding that such tactic has not been used “in a long time.”

Videos from Jenin circulating on social media showed Israeli military vehicles coming under fire both on the ground and in the air.

One showed a military truck driving down the road with near-continuous cracking of gunfire before a burst of smoke erupts around it. Another showed several trucks sitting crosswise along a road with bullet damage to their front windows.

And a third showed a heavy armored Israeli truck attempting to tow a second one with a rope or cable. The lead vehicle revs its engine, apparently trying to drag the other vehicle around a parked car on a street, then reverses, pushing the following vehicle backwards, before rolling forward again with the second truck in tow. The sound of gunfire erupts as the two vehicles move up the road.

A video posted on Twitter by Army Radio showed a helicopter launching four projectiles, with white smoke trailing behind them as they clear the chopper. Another video circulating on social media showed what appeared to be the same helicopter with the sound of gunfire in the background.

CNN’s Amir Tal contributed reporting.

Related Articles

Back to top button