Israeli aircraft struck a compound beneath a mosque in the occupied West Bank early on Sunday that the military said was being used by terrorists to organise attacks, and Palestinian medics said at least one person was killed.
Israel said the compound beneath al-Ansar Mosque, in Jenin refugee camp, belonged to operatives from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad who were responsible for attacks in recent months.
‘Intel was recently received which indicated that the terrorists, (who) were neutralized, were organizing an imminent terror attack,’ the military said in a statement.
The military released images that it said showed an entrance to a bunker under the mosque. It also released a diagram that it said showed where terrorists had stored weapons there.
Footage on social media, appearing to show the scene of the air strike, showed a gaping hole in one of the mosque’s exterior walls, surrounded by debris.
Footage on social media, appearing to show the scene of the air strike, showed a gaping hole in one of the mosque’s exterior walls, surrounded by debris, with civilians and members of the emergency services at the scene
Several dozen Palestinians are seen assessing the damage, as ambulance sirens blare in the background.
The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said at least one Palestinian was killed and three others injured. It had earlier said that two people were killed.
The Israeli air strike is at least the second in recent days to hit the West Bank, where violence has surged since Hamas gunmen from Gaza carried out a deadly October 7 rampage in Israel, killing more than 1,400 people.
Jenin refugee camp, a Palestinian terrorist stronghold, was the focus of a major Israeli military operation earlier this year.
The Israeli Air Force said in a statement: ‘In a joint IDF and ISA activity, the IDF conducted an aerial strike on an underground terror compound in the Al-Ansar mosque in Jenin; The mosque contained a terror cell of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror operatives who were organizing an imminent terror attack.
‘The terrorist cell also carried out a terror attack on October 14th in the area of the security fence, where an explosive device was detonated by a cellular activation of terror forces who arrived at the scene.’
Israel pounded southern Gaza with air strikes early on Sunday and said it would intensify its attacks in the enclave’s north, as the U.S. committed to getting more aid to Palestinians running out of food, water, medicines and fuel.
Palestinian media reported at least 11 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Palestinian media also said Israel was striking the southern city of Rafah.
Footage widely circulating online in the immediate aftermath of the attack purported to show emergency services rushing to administer aid beside the damaged building. There were also some civilians gathered outside
People inspect the damage after an Israeli strike hit a compound beneath a mosque that the Israeli military said was being used by terrorists to organise attacks, in Jenin refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on October 22, 2023
The aftermath of an Israeli strike that a compound beneath a mosque in Jenin refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on October 22, 2023
Israel Defense Forces posted on social media following the attack
Beneath the images of the compound it wrote: ‘The IDF & ISA just conducted an aerial strike on a Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist compound in the Al-Ansar Mosque in Jenin. Recent IDF intel revealed that the Mosque was used as a command center to plan and execute terrorist attacks against civilians’
The overnight strikes came hours after Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari called on Gazans to move south out of harm’s way.
‘For your own safety move southward. We will continue to attack in the area of Gaza City and increase attacks,’ Hagari said in a briefing to Israeli reporters on Saturday.
Israel is facing mounting pressure from the West to delay its ground offensive into Gaza and to win the freedom of Hostages captured by Hamas.
Israel has amassed tanks and troops near the fenced border around the narrow coastal enclave for the planned ground invasion with the objective of annihilating Hamas, after several inconclusive wars dating to its seizure of power there in 2007.
In a video distributed by the Israeli military on Saturday, Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi told troops: ‘We are going to go into the Gaza Strip … to destroy Hamas operatives and Hamas infrastructure and we will have in our mind the memories of the images and those who fell on Saturday two weeks ago.’
Israeli troops have carried out live fire drills ‘in preparations for the next stage of war’, footage released by the Israeli army on Saturday showed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his Cabinet late on Saturday to discuss the expected invasion, Israeli media reported.
Smoke rises as the Israeli airstrikes continue on its 15th day in Beit Hanoun, Gaza on October 21, 2023
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, Israel’s military spokesman, said the country planned to step up its airstrikes starting on Saturday as preparation for the next stage of the war.
‘We will deepen our attacks to minimize the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war. We are going to increase the attacks, from today,’ Hagari said, repeating his call for Gaza City residents to head south for their safety.
Israel has vowed to crush Hamas but has given few details about what it envisions for Gaza if it succeeds.
Yifat Shasha-Biton, a Cabinet minister, said there was broad consensus in the government that there will have to be a ‘buffer zone’ in Gaza to keep Palestinians away from the border.
An Israeli ground assault would likely lead to a dramatic escalation in casualties on both sides in urban fighting.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed in the war – mostly civilians slain during the Hamas attack.
More than 4,300 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. That includes the disputed toll from a hospital explosion.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Saturday that more than a million of the territory’s people have been displaced.
An IDF soldier jumps off the front of a tank on October 21, 2023 in southern Israel
IDF soldiers clean the barrel of a tank on October 21, 2023 in southern Israel
Hamas said it fired rockets towards Tel Aviv on Saturday in response to Israeli air strikes that Gaza’s Health Ministry and Hamas media said killed at least 50 people and injured dozens.
Amid mounting international concern the conflict could widen into a regional war, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday cautioned Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in a call that the Lebanese people would be affected if his country were drawn in, the State Department said.
Israel said its aircraft struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Saturday and that one of its soldiers was hit by an anti-tank missile, in cross-border fighting that the Iran-backed group said killed six of its fighters.
Israel on Saturday described as ‘propaganda’ a claim by Hamas that the terrorist group had wanted to release two more hostages on humanitarian grounds but that Israel declined to receive them.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, said it informed Qatar of the group’s intention to release the two additional people on Friday, the same day it freed Americans Judith Tai Ranaan and her daughter Natalie.
An aerial view of humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023
On Saturday, the first humanitarian aid convoy to be allowed in to the besieged Gaza Strip since the war broke out arrived through the Rafah border crossing.
The United Nations said the 20-truck convoy included life-saving supplies that would be received by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
But the U.N. humanitarian office (OCHA) said the volume of goods that entered on Saturday was equivalent to about 4 per cent of the daily average of imports into Gaza prior to the hostilities, and only a fraction of what was needed after 13 days of siege of an enclave that is home to 2.3 million people.
U.S. President Joe Biden cheered the arrival of the aid after days of intense negotiations and said the United States was committed to ensuring more assistance would enter via the Rafah border crossing.
‘We will continue to work with all parties,’ Biden said in a statement.