Israeli troops withdraw from Jenin refugee camp after two-day raid

Palestinians inspect damage after the Israeli army's withdrawal from the Jenin camp (REUTERS)

Israeli troops have withdrawn from a militant stronghold in the West Bank after a two-day raid, the military has confirmed.

At least 13 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed in the operation in the Jenin refugee camp, security officials said.

The army claimed to have inflicted heavy damage on militant groups in an operation that included a series of airstrikes and hundreds of ground troops.

They also said five rockets launched by militants in the Gaza Strip into Israel had been intercepted as tensions remained high.

Hamas said an earlier attack by a Hamas militant who rammed his car into a crowded Tel Aviv bus stop and began stabbing people, wounding eight, including a pregnant woman was revenge for the Israeli offensive. The attacker was killed by an armed bystander.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to carry out similar offensives in the future.

He said: “At these moments we are completing the mission, and I can say that our extensive operation in Jenin is not a one-off. We will eradicate terrorism wherever we see it and we will strike at it.”

People clean up debris in the aftermath of the military operation (AFP via Getty Images)
People clean up debris in the aftermath of the military operation (AFP via Getty Images)

Israel struck the camp, known as a bastion of Palestinian militants, on Monday in an operation it said was aimed at destroying and confiscating weapons. Palestinian health officials said 13 Palestinians had been killed and dozens wounded.

Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and people uninvolved in confrontations have also died.

The military said it had confiscated thousands of weapons, bomb-making materials and caches of money. Weapons were found in militant hideouts and civilian areas alike, in one case beneath a mosque, the military said.

Jenin Mayor Nidal Al-Obeidi said around 4,000 Palestinians, nearly one third of the camp, had fled to stay with relatives or in shelters.

Doctors Without Borders accused the army of firing tear gas into a hospital, filling the emergency room with smoke and forcing emergency patients to be treated in a main hall.

The office of the UN’s human rights chief said the scale of the operation “raises a host of serious issues with respect to international human rights norms and standards, including protecting and respecting the right to life”.