Israeli air attacks hit Gaza, escalation fears after Jenin raid | Israel-Palestine conflict News
Israel launched several airstrikes in the blockaded Gaza Strip a day after Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, in the Jenin refugee camp in one of the deadliest Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank in recent years.
Local sources in Gaza told Al Jazeera that Israeli warplanes carried out at least 13 strikes on the al-Maghazi refugee camp in the center of the territory early Friday morning.
The al-Zaytoun area in the south of Gaza City was also affected, as was the open area east of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza.
Witnesses and local media reported that Israeli drones fired two missiles at targets in Gaza before the fighter jets struck.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, and “cautious calm” returned to Gaza by morning, Al Jazeera correspondent Maram Humaid said.
The Israeli army said the air strikes on Gaza – one of the world’s most densely populated areas with a population of 2.1 million – came after two rockets were fired at Israel around midnight (22:00 GMT).
Air raid sirens sounded in southern Israel when the first two rockets were fired, and then again after Israeli air attacks.
The Israeli army said the missiles were intercepted by Israeli air defenses, and the country’s Channel 12 aired footage of Israeli interceptor missiles being launched into the night sky over the city of Ashkelon, about 12 kilometers north of Gaza.
No group claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.
However, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that the armed groups in Gaza “will continue to carry out [their] duty to protect the Palestinian people and their holy places will remain the people’s shield and sword.”
As a result of Israeli air attacks and rocket attacks, Israeli forces killed nine people during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. At least 20 people were also injured on one of the deadliest days in the West Bank since Israel stepped up its raids in early 2021.
Israeli forces also shot and killed a 22-year-old Palestinian in the town of Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem.
Four of those injured in the raid were in critical condition, and among the dead was an elderly woman identified by Jenin hospital authorities as Magda Obeid.
Obeid’s family said she was shot while looking out of a window.
The Palestinians called the Jenin raid a “massacre”.
There were fears in Gaza that the Israeli air attacks that followed the Jenin raid were a sign that a new conflict was about to break out, just five months after the last major Israeli attack on the blockaded area that killed at least 49 people. .
“My children woke up [after the Israeli air attacks] … the sound was very loud,” Anas Abu Muailik, who lives with his family in Al Maghazi, told Al Jazeera. “My house and windows were shaking a lot, there were flames nearby – it turned out that a stronghold of resistance near our house had been bombed.”
“These short military escalations are often a prelude to wars, and we don’t want that,” Abu Muailik added. “All we want is to live in peace and stability, what is happening to us is enough.”
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, said on Friday that the Israeli military had been ordered to “prepare for action … in case we have to continue – until calm has been restored to the citizens of Israel.”
However, when the situation calmed down on Friday morning, the Israeli army allowed Israelis living near Gaza to carry on with their daily routine, opening shops and schools.
Speaking from Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Ilyas Karam said Israel’s assessment is that this “wave of confrontation is over” and that the exchange of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli air attacks “did not break normal rules of engagement” between the two sides.
However, Karam added, the next week will be critical in determining whether the violence will escalate.
In the West Bank on Thursday, people took to the streets in solidarity with Jenin as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudayneh said Abbas had cut off security coordination with Israel “in light of the repeated aggressions against our people and the undermining of signed agreements.” He said the Palestinians plan to file complaints with the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international bodies about Israeli violence.
The United Arab Emirates, China and France asked the UNSC to meet behind closed doors on Friday in connection with the attacks, diplomats said.
Thor Vennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said on Twitter that he is “deeply disturbed” and “saddened” by the violence and that he is working with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to “reduce tension, restore calm and avoid further conflict.”
#AND envoy @TWennesland:
Deeply disturbed and saddened by the ongoing cycle of violence. It is extremely important to immediately reduce tensions and prevent new casualties. Encourages and continues to engage with the authors 🇮🇱 and 🇵🇸. to reduce tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict.
Full statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/KBIGcjnG7Q
— UNSCO (@UNSCO_MEPP) January 26, 2023
Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir praised Israeli forces for the Jenin raid, saying those who seek to “harm our personnel should know that his blood is not paid for.”