By Ron Kampeas
At least nine Palestinians were killed in Jenin during the first major Israeli raid on the city since Israel’s new right-wing government took office last month.
Israeli authorities say they killed six militants in the raid on what they said was a safe house. They said the raid was aimed at heading off a major attack on Israel.
Palestinian officials said nine were killed, including civilians, among them a 60-year-old woman, and that Israeli forces blocked entry to first responders for hours.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning and Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Islamist terrorists whose affiliates are among the armed gangs who effectively control the city, vowed to retaliate.
The raid, the largest in months, comes as the new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the most right-wing in history, is in its first weeks. Before he stepped down earlier this month, the previous head of the Israel Defense Forces warned that the coalition’s plans, especially around governance in the West Bank, could ignite conflict and make Israelis less safe.
The raid also comes a week ahead of a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Biden administration, focused on supporting Ukraine’s effort to repel Russia’s invasion, is seeking quiet in the Middle East. Also at stake are pledges by Blinken and Netanyahu to expand the Abraham Accords, Israel’s normalization agreements with four Arab countries.
Israel has been targeting Jenin since last April, after a series of deadly attacks on Israeli civilian targets inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and in the West Bank. Israeli authorities say the attacks originate in the West Bank city, which is nominally under Palestinian Authority control, but where militias reign.