Israeli air attacks have hit sites in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, following rockets fired toward Israel from the strip earlier on Wednesday morning.
Israeli media, citing Palestinian news sources, said Israel’s air force hit a target near Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian media sources said at least three air strikes hit locations in the town. There were no initial reports of damage or casualties
Meanwhile, the Israeli military’s operation in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin is winding down but “not over”, a spokesperson told CNN, as the United Nations expressed deep concern over the violence in the city’s sprawling refugee camp.
In Jenin, at least 12 people, from ages 16 to 23, have been killed and scores more injured after Israeli forces launched operations in the camp this week, Palestinian officials say.
In an interview on CNN when the death toll stood at 11, Israeli military’s chief spokesman Daniel Hagari claimed no “noncombatants” had been killed during the incursion.
“We are now in the end of achieving our goals, inside Jenin, fighting the terror and dismantling the terror in the Jenin Camp,” Hagari said. “We are achieving our goals and when we achieve our goals the forces will get out from the camp.”
Video obtained by CNN showed Israeli military vehicles starting to withdraw from the occupied West Bank city, as other vehicles are seen entering.
Even after the initial announcement of Israeli forces starting to withdraw, military operations appeared to continue late Tuesday with the military saying that an armed terrorist cell was targeted by an aircraft in a cemetery on the outskirts of Jenin city.
The operation was carried out because the gunmen “posed a threat to the security forces exiting from the Jenin Camp,” it added.
In Gaza early Wednesday, the Israeli military said it carried out a targeted airstrike on an “underground weapon production site” used by Hamas. A site involved in the production of raw materials for Hamas’ rockets was also targeted, it said.
Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip had been expected following the firing of rockets from the strip towards Israel earlier on Wednesday morning, said Al Jazeera reporter Issam Adwan in Gaza.
“We have seen various air strikes, particularly at the northern side of the Gaza Strip in the city of Beit Lahia and the south side city of Gaza,” Adwan said.
The Israeli army has confirmed it carried out air attacks on the Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired from the Palestinian coastal enclave.
“In response to the rockets launched earlier tonight (Wednesday), the IDF (Israel Defense Force) is currently striking in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli army said, according to the French news agency AFP.
Palestinian security source said the air attacks hit a Hamas military site in northern Gaza but caused no injuries.
Earlier, Hamas said a car ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv Tuesday was carried out by one of their fighters, and was a response to Israel’s operation in Jenin.
Eight people were injured in the attack near a Tel Aviv shopping center, Israeli officials say, which saw the attacker emerge from the crashed vehicle and continue to stab civilians.
An Israeli police spokesperson described the car ramming on Pinchas Rosen Street in northern Tel Aviv as a “terror attack,” and told CNN the driver was killed by an armed civilian.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack, saying “whoever thinks that such an attack will deter us from continuing our fight against terrorism is mistaken. He is simply unfamiliar with the spirit of the State of Israel, our government, our citizens and our soldiers.”
The UN’s human rights chief Volker Türk called for the “killing, maiming and the destruction of property” to end.
“The recent operation in the Occupied West Bank and car ramming attack in Tel Aviv worryingly underscore an all too familiar pattern of events: that violence only begets more violence,” a statement read.
“The scale of the Israeli Security Forces’ ongoing operation in Jenin, including the use of repeated airstrikes, along with the destruction of property, raises a host of serious issues with respect to international human rights norms and standards, including protecting and respecting the right to life,” he added.
Türk said “some of the methods and weapons used during the operations by ISF [Israeli Security Forces] in the Jenin Refugee Camp and surrounding areas are more generally associated with the conduct of hostilities in armed conflict, rather than law enforcement.”
UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, reported that at least three children lost their lives, while many others sustained injuries amid ongoing clashes.
He called on Israeli forces to “abide by international human rights standards,” which “do not change simply because the goal of the operation is stated as ‘counter-terrorism.’”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a statement early Wednesday that the “Palestinian people scored a great victory by defeating the aggression against Jenin and its camp.”
“The Jenin Battalion and its brave fighters bravely and heroically led this great victory,” the group’s secretary general Ziyad al-Nakhala said. “I call for national solidarity in order to strengthen the steadfastness of the Jenin camp so that it remains an inspiring address for revolution, defiance, jihad and resistance.”
A total of 117 people were injured in the Jenin refugee camp due to the ongoing Israeli operation, said the Palestinian Red Crescent on Tuesday. Among these injuries, there are 12 reported as serious and 33 as moderate. The Israelis had acknowledged civilians among those injured.
Thousands of people are still out of their homes, after evacuating overnight to avoid harm. The damage in the camp is extensive, with some roads torn up as Israeli bulldozers disarmed IEDs, and extensive damage to homes and cars as a result of the clashes.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the Palestinian Authority Deputy Prime Minister, called for United States to help de-escalate the situation, in an interview with CNN’s Eleni Giokos on Tuesday.
“Americans should interfere because Israel should be stopped by the Americans, immediately. Otherwise, the situation is very risky, very dangerous for them and for us,” in an interview with CNN anchor Eleni Giokos on Tuesday.
Rudeineh said that “the Israeli army was attacking Palestinian citizens” and added, “What happened yesterday was completely dangerous.”
Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) said that three hospitals came under attack during the Israeli military assault on Jenin, “severely damaging their operational capacity”.
The Israeli military also prevented ambulances from evacuating the wounded during the assault on Jenin and, “in a further escalation, Israeli forces stormed Jenin’s governmental hospital, firing tear gas and live bullets”, the human rights group said in a tweet.
“Five civilians were injured as a result, including three in serious condition. According to reports, the emergency room is still unusable, and other hospital departments haven’t returned to normal operations,” the organization said.
“When hospitals are attacked, and their protected status is ignored, the resulting damage is severe: patients and staff are injured, residents lose confidence in the hospital as a haven… and the trust in medical facilities, personnel, and their capacity to provide care and protection is lost,” PHRI said. — Agencies