31 Jan 2024

Disguised Israeli forces kill 3 militants in West Bank hospital raid

6:57 am on 31 January 2024

By Raneen Sawafta for Reuters

This grab taken from a UGC video released on social media on January 30, 2024 shows CCTV footage displayed on a computer screen reportedly of a deadly raid by undercover Israeli troops at the Ibn Sina hospital in the northern city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Israeli undercover agents, some disguised as medical staff, raided a West Bank hospital on January 30 and shot dead three Palestinian militants, in the first such operation in eight years. The Israeli military said forces entered the hospital -- a major health facility serving Jenin city and its adjacent refugee camp -- to target a "Hamas terrorist cell". (Photo by UGC / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT «  AFP PHOTO / SOCIAL MEDIA  » - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

This screengrab taken from a UGC video released on social media on January 30, 2024 shows CCTV footage displayed on a computer screen reportedly of a deadly raid by undercover Israeli troops at the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Photo: AFP / Social Media

Israeli commandos disguised as medical workers and Muslim women burst into a hospital in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and killed three Palestinian militants, one of them lying paralysed in bed, witnesses and authorities said.

The Israeli military said the three militants were killed in a joint undercover operation by the army, Shin Bet security service and border police in the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, one of the most volatile cities in the West Bank.

It identified one of the men as Mohammad Walid Jalamna, a Hamas member who, it said, was planning an attack inspired by the Hamas-led rampage across Gaza's border, into Israel on 7 October, and said a pistol had been recovered.

The military said the two others, the brothers Basel Al-Ghazzawi and Mohammad Al-Ghazzawi, belonged to the Jenin Brigade and the armed wing of Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian health ministry confirmed the deaths and called on the United Nations to guarantee protection for health centres.

"The occupation is committing a new massacre inside hospitals," it said in a statement.

A woman consoles the mother (R) of Muhammad Ayman Ghazawi and Basel Ayman Ghazawi, two of three Palestinian men who were killed when undercover Israeli agents raided the Ibn Sina hospital in the city of Jenin, as she mourns during their funeral in the occupied West Bank city on January 30, 2024. Israeli forces shot dead three Palestinians at the hospital early on January 30, the Palestinian health ministry said, while the army said the three belonged to a Hamas "terrorist cell". The operation is the first such deadly incursion in years. (Photo by Zain JAAFAR / AFP)

A woman consoles the mother, right, of Basel Al-Ghazzawi and Mohammad Al-Ghazzawi, two of the three Palestinian men killed in the hospital. Photo: AFP

CCTV footage from the hospital showed a group of about 10 people, dressed variously in civilian clothes and medical garb and including three in headscarves and women's clothing, pacing through a corridor, armed with assault rifles and moving into the hospital.

The hospital's director, Dr Naji Nazzal said the Israeli team had entered the hospital at around 5.30am (local time) and made its way stealthily to the third floor, ringing the bell to enter the ward where the men were sleeping.

"They executed the three men as they slept in the room," he told Reuters. "They executed them in cold blood by firing bullets directly into their heads in the room where they were being treated."

Hours later, a bloodied blue hospital pillow pierced by a bullet remained on a bed, while a folding bed nearby was also stained with blood, apparently from a shot to the head.

Nazzal said Basil Ayman Al-Ghazzawi had been receiving treatment since 25 October for a spinal injury which had paralysed him.

The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad militant group said the Al-Ghazzawi brothers were members of its armed wing, while Hamas confirmed that Jalamna belonged to its Al Qassam Brigade.

The Israeli military said the three had been hiding in the hospital and said it was "another example of the cynical use of civilian areas and hospitals as shelters and human shields by terrorist organisations". Hamas has denied such allegations.

The dramatic operation in the early hours of the morning was the latest in a series of incidents in the West Bank, which has seen an explosion of violence since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on 7 October and the subsequent invasion of Gaza by Israel.

Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, has witnessed some of the biggest clashes, with repeated Israeli attacks on the densely packed Palestinian refugee camp adjoining the city.

Thousands of mourners poured into the streets of the camp during the day as the three men killed in the raid were buried.

This story was first published by Reuters.

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