Israeli Troops Dressed as Civilian Women and Medics Kill 3 Militants in West Bank Hospital

JENIN, West Bank (AP) — Israeli troops disguised as civilian women and medics stormed a hospital Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing three Palestinian militants in a dramatic attack that underscored how deadly violence has spread to the region due to the war in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, ruled out a military withdrawal from Gaza and the release of thousands of jailed militants – Hamas’ two main demands for a ceasefire – casting doubt on the latest efforts to end a war that has destabilized the Middle East. East.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces opened fire inside Ibnu Sina Hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin. A hospital spokesman said there was no gunfire, indicating it was a targeted killing.

The Israeli military said the militants used the hospital as a hideout, without providing evidence. They alleged that one of those targeted had transferred weapons and ammunition to others to carry out a planned attack, purportedly inspired by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in southern Israel that sparked the war in Gaza.

Security camera footage from the hospital showed about a dozen undercover troops, most of them armed, wearing headscarves, hospital gowns or white doctor’s coats. One carried a rifle in one hand and a folded wheelchair in the other.

Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ main demands

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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Netanyahu, speaking at an event elsewhere in the West Bank, denied reports of a possible ceasefire deal to end the war in Gaza and repeated his vow to continue fighting until “absolute victory” over Hamas.

“We will not end this war without achieving all our goals,” said Netanyahu, who is under pressure from the families of the hostages and wider society to reach a deal. “We will not withdraw the Israeli military from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of terrorists,” he said.

On Tuesday, Hamas’ top political leader Ismail Haniyeh said his group was studying the latest terms for the agreement, but the priority was the “full withdrawal” of Israeli troops from Gaza and that any agreement must lead to a long-term ceasefire. fire.

He said the Hamas leadership had been invited to Cairo to continue talks. The militant group, which has reached unequal swap deals with Israel in the past, is expected to demand the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners – including prominent militants – in return for the remaining hostages.

Qatar and Egypt, which mediate with Hamas, have held talks with Israel and the United States in recent days. US officials said negotiators had made progress toward a deal, including the gradual release of the remaining hostages over two months and the entry of more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The war in Gaza began when hundreds of Hamas-led militants invaded southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping around 250 others. More than 100 people were freed during a week-long ceasefire in November in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israeli attacks have killed more than 26,700 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-controlled territory’s Health Ministry. The ministry’s tally does not distinguish between fighters and civilians, but says about two-thirds of the dead were women and minors.

Tuesday’s attack on a residential building in the central city of Deir al-Balah killed 11 people, including four children, according to an Associated Press journalist who saw the bodies at a hospital.

The war has leveled much of the small coastal region, displaced 85% of its population, and left a quarter of its population starving.

Hospitals have become battlegrounds


Israel has come under heavy criticism for its attacks on hospitals in Gaza, which have treated tens of thousands of Palestinians injured in the war and provided vital shelter for refugees.

Gaza’s health care system, already weak before the war, is on the verge of collapse, strained by the influx of patients and shortages of fuel and medical supplies due to Israeli restrictions and fighting in and near health facilities.

Israel says militants use hospitals as cover. The military said they had discovered underground tunnels around the hospital and found weapons and vehicles used in the October 7 attack on the hospital grounds.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces raided Al-Amal Hospital on Tuesday in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, where some 7,000 refugees had taken shelter.

Rescue services said Israeli tanks lined up outside the hospital fired live ammunition and smoke grenades at people inside. Raed al-Nims, a spokesman for the aid group, said everyone was ordered to evacuate.

The Israeli military said without elaborating that its troops were operating in the area of ​​the hospital but not inside it.

Crackdown in the West Bank

Violence in the West Bank has escalated since October 7, when Israel cracked down on suspected militants and killed more than 380 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Most died in confrontations with Israeli forces during raids or violent protests.

The military said that in a hospital raid on Tuesday, troops killed Mohammed Jalamneh, 27, who it said was planning an attack in the near future. The other two men killed, brothers Basel and Mohammed Ghazawi, were hiding inside the hospital and were involved in the attack, the military said.

The military statement said Jalamneh was armed with a gun but did not mention any exchange of fire.

Hamas condemned the killing and identified Jalamneh as one of its fighters. The smaller Islamic Jihad militant group said the Ghazawi brothers were members of its armed wing.

Hospital spokesman Tawfiq al-Shobaki said there was no gunfire, and Basel Ghazawi had been a patient since October, with partial paralysis.

“What happened is a precedent,” he said. “There has never been a murder inside the hospital. There were arrests and attacks, but not murders.”

Tuesday’s attack took place in the West Bank city of Jenin, which has long been a stronghold of the armed struggle against Israel and a frequent target of Israeli attacks, even before the war began.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but imposed a strict blockade of the territory, along with Egypt, when Hamas came to power through a violent takeover in 2007. Israel maintains open occupation of the West Bank, where more than half a million residents live. Israelis now live in settlements.

The Palestinians claim these territories as part of their future independent state, hopes of which have grown dimmer since the war began.

Lidman reported from Jerusalem and Shurafa from Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip. Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed reporting from Beirut. ___

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