The Israeli military’s operation in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin is winding down but “not over” until the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) say it is, a spokesperson told CNN, as the United Nations expressed deep concern over the violence in the city’s sprawling refugee camp.
At least 12 people, ranging in ages from 16 to 23, have been killed and scores more injured after Israeli forces launched operations in the camp this week, Palestinian officials say. Israel said it was targeting Palestinian terrorists and one of its soldiers was killed in the operation.
UNICEF, the United Nation’s children agency, reported that at least three children lost their lives, while many others sustained injuries amid ongoing clashes.
In an interview on CNN when the death toll stood at 11, IDF Chief Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari claimed no “non combatants” 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 IDF announcement of their forces starting to withdraw, military operations appeared to continue late Tuesday with the IDF saying that an armed terrorist cell was targeted by an IDF 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,” the IDF added.
Meanwhile, Palestinian militant group 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 ongoing 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.
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.”
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.’”
A 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.”
In Jenin, a total of 117 people were injured in the refugee camp due to the ongoing IDF operation, said the Palestinian Red Crescent on Tuesday. Among these injuries, there are 12 reported as serious and 33 as moderate. The IDF had acknowledged civilians among those injured.
Thousands 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.”