Israeli forces dressed as women and doctors killed three militants during a raid in a hospital in the occupied West Bank Tuesday, with the military alleging that one of the targets had been planning a new attack inspired by Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre.
Combined forces from Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and counterterror police stormed into the Ibn Sina Hospital in the town of Jenin overnight, the IDF said in a statement. Hamas claimed all three of the victims as members, condemning the operation as a “cowardly assassination.”
Dramatic security camera footage reportedly from the hospital shared on social media appears to show around a dozen undercover forces. One of the men can be seen wielding a rifle while wearing a doctor’s white coat and surgical mask. Another, also armed, is dressed as a woman wearing a Muslim headscarf. A third appears to be wearing blue hospital scrubs. One of the forces is holding a wheelchair in one hand and a rifle in the other, while another appears to be holding a baby carrier.
القوة الخاصة الاسرائيلية التي نفذت عملية الاغتيال في مستشفى ابن سينا pic.twitter.com/MKY305l6hB
— Hisham Abu Shaqrah | هشام أبو شقرة (@HShaqrah) January 30, 2024
A spokesperson for the hospital told the Associated Press that there was no exchange of fire during the raid, suggesting that the killings were targeted. The IDF alleged that the three militants had been hiding in the hospital and that one, 27-year-old Mohammed Jalamneh, “transferred weapons and ammunition to terrorists in order to promote shooting attacks, and planned a raid attack inspired by the October 7th massacre.” Jalamneh was planning to carry out a “terror attack in the immediate future,” the IDF added, and “therefore [he] was neutralized.”
The Israeli military also published an image of a handgun it claims its forces confiscated from Jalamneh. The two others killed were identified as brothers Basel and Mohammed Ghazawi. The IDF alleged the siblings “hid” inside the hospital and had both been involved in attacks and terror activities. The three assumed being in the facility would protect them from counterterror operations, the IDF claimed. “This is another example of the cynical use of civilian areas and hospitals as shelters and human shields by terrorist [organizations],” it added.
Israel has long accused Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian sites as shields for launching operations or protecting militants and weapons in underground tunnels, particularly in Gaza. Hamas has rejected the claim.
Israel’s military operations in and around Palestinian hospitals has been the subject of widespread international criticism during its campaign in Gaza. The enclave’s health system has all but collapsed as a result of the fighting, coupled with a large influx of patients and a simultaneous throttling of medical supplies to the region due to Israel’s blockade.
Tel Aviv launched its ground offensive in Gaza in response to the Hamas attacks in October which left 1,200 people dead, according to Israel, while another 250 were kidnapped in the mayhem. Palestinian health officials say Israel’s massive retaliatory operation has so far killed over 26,000 people in Gaza, while a severe humanitarian crisis in the region has also been created by the conflict.
The vast majority of residents have been displaced and a quarter of the population is starving, according to the United Nations. Some fear that the crisis could be about to be seriously exacerbated as major donors halt funding to the U.N.’s aid agency for Palestinian refugees amid claims that some of the agency’s staff were involved in the Hamas attacks.
Over 380 Palestinians have also been killed in the West Bank since the war erupted four months ago, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, mostly during confrontations with Israeli forces. The Israeli military says it has arrested almost 3,000 people in the West Bank during raids targeting militants since October.
Tawfiq al-Shobaki, a spokesperson for the Ibn Sina Hospital where the latest raid unfolded, said doctors, nurses, and security staff were attacked during the operation. “What happened is a precedent,” he told AP. “There was never an assassination inside a hospital. There were arrests and assaults, but not an assassination.”