Israeli bloodbath in Jenin kills 9 Palestinians

Hundreds of people carry multiple bodies on stretchers

Hundreds of mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during an attack on the Jenin refugee camp, during their funeral in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on 26 January.

Ahmed Ibrahim APA images

In bloody carnage on Thursday morning, Israeli occupation forces assaulted Jenin refugee camp killing nine Palestinians, including two children and a 61-year-old woman, and injuring dozens more.

A 10th Palestinian was killed by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem later the same day.

The Israeli army, Israel’s domestic spying and torture agency Shin Bet and special police forces invaded the camp in the northern West Bank early Thursday supposedly “to foil imminent attack plans by a local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the Israeli military claimed, according to The Times of Israel.

The Israeli army claimed that Palestinian militants fired at them, and a gunfight ensued.

The Palestinian health ministry reported that most injuries of those arriving at hospitals from Jenin refugee camp were in the head or chest, indicating that Israeli “firing at citizens was intended to kill.”

Two of the dead were identified as 17-year-old Abdullah Marwan Musa and 16-year-old Wasim Amjad Abu Jaes by Defense for Children International-Palestine:

Abdullah was standing in an alley in the al-Hawashin neighborhood in Jenin refugee camp and then started walking towards the main street.

His friend yelled at him to turn around when an Israeli sniper stationed in the window of a nearby building shot him in the chest with live ammunition, according to a field investigation by DCIP.

“The Israeli sniper fired an additional three bullets near Abdullah as he fell to the ground,” DCIP reported.

“His friend asked nearby Palestinian residents to call an ambulance, but the ambulance took more than 10 minutes to arrive as Israeli forces prevented medical staff and ambulances from reaching injured Palestinians, including Abdullah.”

In the same neighborhood, Wasim was standing with several other Palestinian youth on the main street.

Wasim approached a group of military vehicles when Israeli forces opened fire, shooting five bullets at the youth. Most of them ran away.

“Immediately after that, an Israeli military vehicle approached Wasim and ran him over,” DCIP reported.

The group said Wasim “likely sustained a gunshot wound from an Israeli sniper,” but since he was “run over by the Israeli military vehicle and suffered severe head lacerations, medical staff could not definitively ascertain whether or not bullets settled in his head.”

Their deaths bring the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year to six.

The woman killed was named as Majida Obeid.

The others killed during the Israeli attack were Mutasem Mahmoud Abu al-Hasan, Noor al-Din Sami Ghneim, Muhammad Sami Ghneim, Muhammad Mahmoud Subuh, Saeb Isam Zreiqi and Izz al-Din Yasin Salahat according to the health ministry.

Thursday killings raised the Palestinian death toll at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers since the start of the year to 30.

The Jenin Brigade, a resistance unit associated with Islamic Jihad and based in the refugee camp, said it engaged the invading force with gunfire and improvised explosives, causing injuries.

The Israeli army said its forces suffered no casualties.

Graphic pictures and footage were posted on social media following the massacre.

Palestinian militants were apparently able to shoot down an Israeli drone:

Later on Thursday, Israeli forces shot and killed another Palestinian youth in occupied East Jerusalem. He was identified as Yousef Yahya Muheisen by the health ministry.

Attacking hospital

During their assault, Israeli forces invaded the Jenin government hospital and attacked the pediatrics unit with tear gas canisters, according to the Palestinian Authority health minister.

Medical staff and infants choked on tear gas, according to the minister. This footage from the hospital shows women carrying children out of the rooms and into the hallways:

The World Health Organization called the massacre “deeply shocking” with no mention of who committed it.

WHO also called for the “respect and protection of health care and unhindered access to essential health services at all times” though it was only Israel, and not Palestinians, that targeted and hindered medical workers and infrastructure.

Israeli occupation forces prevented Palestinian health workers from reaching the camp and prohibited medics from entering, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

After about an hour, as the toll of death and injury continued to rise, Israeli forces finally allowed Red Crescent staff to enter the camp

The Red Crescent said that its crews “exercised extreme caution, especially since there were warning shots near the ambulances.”

The medical organization said it evacuated at least 26 people injured with live bullets.

Whitewashing Israel’s bloody hands

An unnamed UN official told NPR that this was “the deadliest single Israeli operation in the West Bank since at least 2005,” the media organization reported.

But that did not stop the UN envoy for the peace process from whitewashing the massacre.

Tor Wennesland referred to it as an example of “the continuing cycle of violence” which led to the “deaths today of nine Palestinians,” without directly stating that Israeli forces were responsible for the killings.

Wennesland urged “Israeli and Palestinian authorities to de-escalate tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict.”

The European Union’s regional envoy Sven Koopmans signed off on Wennesland’s statement, saying he shared his “deep concerns” and supported the UN envoy’s “efforts at de-escalation.”

Steffen Seibert, the German ambassador in Tel Aviv, asserted Israel’s “right to protect its citizens from terrorism” but made no mention of Palestinians’ right to self-defense and resistance against their military occupier.

Seibert said he was “worried by news of [the] high number of casualties” and called for “de-escalation,” completely erasing Israel’s role in the morning slaughter.

Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, blamed the so-called international community’s complicity for the bloodshed in Jenin.

“As we have witnessed the horrifying brutal Israeli raid on Jenin refugee camp, we remind the world that the nine Palestinian lives taken today, could have been spared, if the world took action to end Israel’s settler-colonialism, apartheid and occupation and held Israel accountable,” the group said.

Empty threats

UN envoy Wennesland reportedly spoke to Palestinian Authority officials after they announced they would be suspending security coordination with Israel in response to the Jenin massacre.

Wennesland urged them not to do so.

The purpose of Wennesland’s efforts is to guarantee that Israel can continue to kill Palestinians while ensuring that Palestinians do not resist or defend themselves.

Wennesland has little to worry about.

The PA has repeatedly threatened to end its subservience to Israel but such announcements have proven to be empty and short-lived every time – likely an effort to appease Palestinian popular anger at their ostensible leaders’ collaboration with the occupation forces.

The Palestinian Authority has since its creation in the mid-1990s maintained close cooperation with Israeli occupation forces, under the banner of “security coordination.”

The purpose of this is to suppress Palestinian resistance and protest against Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank. This is also why the United States and European countries have been willing to fund the PA.

In the small areas of the occupied West Bank where the PA has nominal control, Palestinian forces are only allowed to arrest other Palestinians. They cannot touch Israeli soldiers or settlers who attack Palestinians.

This means in practice that the PA exists to protect Israel and its settlers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Thursday that the PA’s primary role was to fight the Palestinian people and their resistance on Israel’s behalf.

“Everywhere the Palestinian Authority doesn’t fulfill its authority, we’ll be forced to enter and foil terror attacks,” Netanyahu’s office said.

Israel considers any form of Palestinian action in defense of their rights, including armed resistance against military occupation forces, non-violent campaigns, human rights advocacy or legal action to be “terrorism.”

Meanwhile, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the secretary general of Islamic Jihad, said Israel’s “aggression would not stop the resistance and that the Palestinian people’s brave fighters would remain on the battlefield in a state of continuous confrontation with the enemy.”

Resistance group Hamas condemned the Israeli massacre, asserting that “the gravity of such [a] crime requires the Palestinian people to continue to resist the Israeli occupation with all means possible – a lawful right guaranteed by international law for all peoples under occupation.”

Netanyahu’s office claimed that Israel is not seeking an “escalation.” However if the bloodshed continues to mount, Israel will be wholly responsible.

Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.