| 15 April 2024, Monday |

Israeli troops withdraw in West Bank, Gaza rockets fired

Militants from the Gaza Strip fired rockets on Wednesday after Israeli forces withdrew from the Palestinian city of Jenin on Tuesday, following one of their biggest military operations in the occupied West Bank for years.

Israeli jets hit an underground weapons manufacturing facility in response, the military said, but it was not immediately clear whether there would be any further escalation.

Hours earlier, two Reuters reporters saw convoys of Israeli military vehicles leaving Jenin after dark in what appeared to signal an end to an Israeli operation that began early on Monday.

Twelve Palestinians, at least five of them fighters, and one Israeli soldier had been killed.

The operation, which the army said was aimed at destroying militant infrastructure and weapons in the Jenin refugee camp, was launched with a drone strike on Monday, and over 1,000 troops were deployed.

After they left, residents who had vacated the camp during the fighting began returning to its dark streets. Some surveyed the damage to the light of their mobile phones.

The densely populated refugee camp, where some 14,000 people live in less than half a square kilometer, has been one of the focal points of a wave of violence that has swept the West Bank for more than a year, drawing growing international alarm.

A few hours after the forces began withdrawing, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired five rockets toward Israel, the military said. The rockets were intercepted and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

There was further escalation on Tuesday with a car-ramming and stabbing attack claimed by the Palestinian Hamas militant group in Israel’s business hub Tel Aviv, in which eight people were hurt.

As Israeli troops were leaving Jenin, explosions could still be heard in the northern West Bank city amid reports of a gunbattle near a Jenin hospital. Reuters could not immediately verify that report.

Doctors Without Borders said Israeli forces had fired tear gas at a hospital where its teams were working.

The Israeli military said it had no knowledge of its forces firing in the vicinity of a hospital but that it did carry out an air-strike at gunmen that had taken up positions in a cemetery and posed a threat to the withdrawing troops.

“At this moment we are completing the mission, and I can say that our extensive activity in Jenin is not a one-time operation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a checkpoint near the city.

  • Reuters