Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Monday night to press forward “for as long as necessary” with the military operation in Jenin, which he said had become “a city of refuge for terrorism.”
Netanyahu held a security assessment at the Beit Lid base with the participation of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Ronen Bar.
“Our forces entered the nest of terrorists in Jenin: They are targeting terrorists. They are arresting fugitives. They are destroying command centers and seizing considerable weaponry. They are doing something else—they are destroying laboratories, of an almost industrial scale, for producing explosives, bombs and devices for killing and murdering Israeli citizens,” said Netanyahu.
“They are doing all of this in one of the most crowded places on earth and they are doing so with minimal injury to civilians, and without any injury to non-combatants. This is the directive: Take care of the security of our forces and also to avoid injury to innocents,” he added.
The prime minister said that the operation would “add to the deterrent capability of the State of Israel, both in defending against additional terrorist attacks and in changing the equation in the area…. We will continue this action as long as necessary in order to restore quiet and security for the citizens of Israel.”
Biggest operation in decades
The Israel Defense Forces began a major counterterror operation in Jenin in the early hours of Monday, including the entry into the Samaria city of significant ground forces.
Over 1,000 IDF troops have been deployed in the campaign, which is believed to be the largest in Judea and Samaria in two decades.
The military said on Tuesday its forces had killed 10 Palestinians, adding that “all of the dead were involved in combat.”
Israeli troops have arrested 120 wanted terror suspects and are still searching for 350 terrorists in Jenin, of which 160 are in the refugee camp.
Despite Monday’s announcement by Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas that he was ending security cooperation with Israel, the IDF denied ties had been severed.
“The resistance of the gunmen [overnight] was low. They ran away from the targets we reached,” said IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari on Tuesday.
He suggested that the operation was likely to conclude within days.
Some 3,000 Palestinians left the Jenin refugee camp on Monday night to escape the battles.
“Anyone who wants to leave is allowed,” said Hagari, while noting that the IDF had not ordered an evacuation of or a closure on Jenin.
Overnight Monday, Israeli forces located and destroyed grenade launchers and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), and confiscated weapons and other military equipment.
Chief of Staff Halevi visited with troops in Jenin and conducted an assessment with commanders in the field.
An hours-long standoff between soldiers and terrorists holed up in a mosque ended on Monday evening as Israeli forces took control of the lower floor of the building.
The IDF said soldiers entered the premises only after an exchange of fire, and found two underground pits containing weapons and explosives.
Forces also located an explosives workshop in the Jenin refugee camp containing hundreds of IEDs, as well as mines intended for use against armored vehicles.
The IDF conducted drone strikes against various targets in the refugee camp.
Jenin has been the source of more than 50 shootings since the start of the year, and 59 terrorists from the city have carried out terror attacks since the beginning of 2022, killing three civilians and wounding 14 other civilians, the army said.
On June 19, an unusually large IED wounded seven soldiers on their way out of Jenin following an arrest operation, requiring the IDF to call in gunship support to extract them. On June 22, the IDF also carried out a targeted killing of three terrorists in Samaria via a drone strike, a tactic not seen in Judea and Samaria in 20 years. That incident was followed on June 26 by the first-ever launch of a homemade rocket from Jenin.
All of these illegal explosives and weapons were confiscated today in the Jenin Camp. They were being stored in exclusively civilian areas, with complete disregard for the people living around.
We will continue operating to neutralize the threat of terrorism from the area of… pic.twitter.com/Rt8FiHCMfH
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) July 3, 2023
American support, for now
United States Reps. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) tweeted support for Israel on July 2 and 3, as Israeli forces targeted terrorist infrastructure in Jenin.
“The Iranian threat is not miles away from Israel’s borders. In fact, it is right at the Jewish State’s doorstep and embedded into aspects of Palestinian society. Tehran and its proxies disrupt stability across the world, and the latest discoveries in the West Bank are frightening,” Gottheimer tweeted.
Israel has every right to defend itself, especially as the PA loses control of Jenin, which has become a hub of Iranian-backed terrorist activity in the West Bank.
— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) July 4, 2023
“Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, helped stockpile explosive devices, rocket parts, rifles, and ammunition in Jenin. The regime’s goal is to wipe Israel and Israelis off the map,” he added. “I am closely following the situation in the region and stand with Israel as it defends itself from terrorists.”
Landsman wrote that “Iran is funding terrorism in the West Bank (and all around Israel). The Palestinian Authority needs help to get these terror groups out, and Israel should not have to do this on its own. It’s bad for the Palestinian Authority, too. Others should be helping.”
Iran is funding terrorism in the West Bank (and all around Israel).
The Palestinian Authority needs help to get these terror groups out, and Israel should not have to do this on its own. It’s bad for the Palestinian Authority, too. Others should be helping. (1/4)
— Congressman Greg Landsman (@RepGregLandsman) July 3, 2023
“This terrorist operation was blocks away from Israeli families, and they’re obviously making the West Bank less safe for Palestinians,” he added. “This is literally an example of Israel, like the rest of us, having the right to defend itself. Anything else would be a dereliction of duty and thousands would have been killed.”
Moskowitz wrote that he supports “the IDF’s operation to remove Iranian-backed terrorist command centers in the West Bank city of Jenin.”
“To be clear, Israel had asked the PA to do this for months, trying to avoid this because they know the international media and Israel’s detractors would blame them,” he wrote.
I support the IDF’s operation to remove Iranian-backed terrorist command centers in the West Bank city of Jenin. To be clear, Israel had asked the PA to do this for months, trying to avoid this because they know the international media and Israel’s detractors would blame them.
— Congressman Jared Moskowitz (@RepMoskowitz) July 4, 2023
“Israel has every right to defend their citizens from Iranian-backed terrorism,” Crane tweeted.
Israel has every right to defend their citizens from Iranian-backed terrorism. https://t.co/aVZmb6JGPT
— Rep. Eli Crane (@RepEliCrane) July 2, 2023
A spokesman for the National Security Council, which advises the US president, released a statement on Monday from the White House about Israel’s current operation in Jenin.
“We support Israel’s security and right to defend its people against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups,” it stated.
The council added that it is monitoring the situation closely.
“We have no intention of occupying the refugee camp, and this is not an operation against the Palestinian Authority,” stated Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces. “We will create a sequence of operations in the northern part of the West Bank.”
Michael Herzog, Israeli ambassador to the United States, described Jenin as “a major hub of terrorism and an Iranian stronghold close to Israeli population centers.”
“No nation would sit idly by as terrorists strike its citizens,” he said.
The @IDF launched an operation against Palestinian terror infrastructure in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Over the past two years, Jenin has become a major hub of terrorism and an Iranian stronghold close to Israeli population centers. Most of the terror attacks against…
— Ambassador Michael Herzog (@AmbHerzog) July 3, 2023
With reporting by JNS.
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