Jenin: Heavy exchange of fire outside mosque as IDF op. continues

The IDF on Sunday night launched its largest operation in Jenin since the Second Intifada with a series of more than ten airstrikes and moving brigade-level forces into the northern West Bank Palestinian city.

IDF Chief Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari said early Monday that as of now the operation is focused on Jenin, but that it could expand to other parts of the northern West Bank, also known as Samaria.

There were no indications that the IDF would expand the operation to the central and southern portions of the West Bank.

Around 1:15 p.m., the IDF and a large group of armed Palestinians engaged in a wider gunbattle near a mosque. IDF aircraft also engaged the Palestinians to “remove them as a threat.” Israeli media reported that some of the armed Palestinians were firing from inside the mosque itself and therefore the IDF did not respond with any sort of airstrike in order to avoid damaging the mosque.


So far, at least seven suspected Palestinian terrorists are dead and dozens wounded, but the real number is expected to be much higher and to expand in the coming days. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported eight dead and at least 50 wounded, 10 of them in serious condition.

One IDF soldier was slightly injured by shrapnel during the operation and taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

The goal is to root out the terror apparatus in Jenin

Hagari refused to set a timeline for the operation, but the impression was that it would last a minimum of several days, and could easily last weeks or longer, but would not be open-ended and would not lead to the IDF trying to permanently hold territory in any way.

Soldiers located and confiscated an improvised rocket launcher and other weapons, and destroyed a laboratory for the production and storage of explosives, according to an IDF statement.

The IDF was careful not to attack any Palestinian Authority security forces and Hagari specifically said that the operation is against local Jenin terror groups and not the PA.

The IDF spokesman in Arabic, Avichay Adraee, on Twitter denied reports circulating in Arabic on social media according to which the IDF attacked the Freedom Theater in Jenin during the operation. Adraee called the reports “lies” and “baseless,” and attached a video clip in which the theater can be seen from the air, untouched by IDF airstrikes.

“The forces in the field have full freedom of action to operate, in the last few hours we dealt a heavy blow to the terrorist organizations in Jenin and managed to record impressive operational achievements,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said at the end of a situational assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and other senior IDF officers.

For more than half a year, Jenin has in any case been beyond the control of the PA.

Hagari would not identify which terror groups, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Lions’ Den, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or others, which have been struck so far, saying it was too early to know.

According to Hagari, the strategy of the operation was to root out a deep and systematically developed terror apparatus in Jenin, which has grown over several months and has gone way out of control. He said over 50 terror attacks emanated from Jenin and over 19 terrorists have tried to escape there after carrying out attacks.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have each transferred millions of shekels to their cells in Jenin during 2023.

The IDF estimates that 25% of Jenin residents identify with Islamic Jihad and 20% with Hamas. Of the 49,000 Palestinians living in Jenin, around 18,000 live in the Jenin refugee camp which has been at the heart of the conflict since March 2022, but even more in 2023.

So far, IDF forces are not going house-to-house and have only taken up positions in portions of Jenin. The IDF also has not yet used tanks in Jenin, though it could in the future if the fighting gets out of hand.

Hagari was adamant that the operation had no name because it is not a full scale operation, would not lead to a war and also therefore, did not receive or need cabinet approval.

However, at the same time, the home front was on high alert should Gaza, Hezbollah or other groups attempt to intervene or attack Israel.

The IDF chief spokesman said that the operation was approved 10 days ago, but that the IDF had waited for local holidays to end as well as for improved weather conditions.

Israel warned the US a week ago that it would soon act decisively against the terror in Jenin, without giving exact details of the operation, Kan reported.

The IDF stated that it was conducting an “extensive counterterrorism effort throughout the city and in the Jenin refugee camp.” Among the targeted sites in the strikes was a joint headquarters used by the Palestinian factions in Jenin as an observation post, a gathering place for armed terrorists, a storage site for weapons and explosives and a contact and communication center for operatives, according to a joint statement by the IDF and Shin Bet.

The headquarters was also used to shelter terrorists on the run.

“Jenin has become a “sanctuary city” for terrorist operatives, and the intelligence that has been accumulated has indicated that there is an effort by Iran and its proxies, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to transfer a lot of money and weapons to terrorists,” Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi stated on Monday morning.

“The IDF and the security forces are now working to attack terrorist operatives, explosives laboratories and rocket manufacturing centers, based on high-quality and accurate intelligence, and with the aim of avoiding harming those not involved as much as possible. Troops from the commando brigade, paratroopers and Golani take part in the operation,” Hanegbi added.

The heads of the biggest opposition parties expressed their support for the operation on Monday morning.

“Our children are being slaughtered and Israel has every right on earth to defend itself and we from that position support the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli government,” Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid told The Jerusalem Post.

“We are all one front against terrorism. Any determined and responsible action by the government will receive full backing,” National Unity party chairman and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated.

This past month, the IDF used helicopter and drone strikes against terrorists for the first time since 2006 in order to rescue ambushed soldiers and in order to strike terrorists’ who were escaping a shooting attack in real-time.

Palestinian outrage against the Jenin operation

Residents of Jenin received messages reportedly from the IDF at the outset of the operation, which read: “Security forces are operating in the area against the militants. Stay at home and protect your family.”

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, cal