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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Israeli forces kill a Hamas commander inside a West Bank hospital, military says

Israeli soldiers in central Gaza on Jan. 8, 2024, during an escorted press tour by the military. The political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, announced on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, that the militant group had received a proposal to pause the fighting in Gaza, after representatives from four nations agreed to present the group with a framework that would begin with a six-week cease-fire to allow for the release of more hostages. (Avishag Shaar-Yashuv/The New York Times)

By Aaron Boxerman

Israeli forces stormed a Palestinian hospital in the occupied West Bank early Tuesday morning, killing three militants, including a Hamas commander, according to the Israeli military and Palestinian officials.

The top Palestinian health official in the city of Jenin, Wisam Sbeihat, said Israeli forces had entered Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital there dressed in civilian clothes and carrying weapons. They went to the room where the Hamas commander, Mohammad Jalamneh, 27, was staying with two friends, and shot all three dead, Sbeihat said.

Surveillance video released by the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry shows multiple gunmen in apparent civilian garb — including one dressed in a white medical coat and another in blue scrubs — walking through the hospital halls, brandishing weapons. The Israeli raid took less than 15 minutes, said Niji Nazzal, the Ibn Sina hospital director.

“This is a hospital. It deserves protection from all kinds of violence,” Nazzal said. “But unfortunately,” he added, “this is what happened.”

In a statement, Hamas mourned Jalamneh as a leader in the Al Qassam Brigades, the Palestinian faction’s armed wing. A local militia affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed his companions — brothers Mohammad Ghazawi and Basil Ghazawi — as members.

The Israeli military said all three had been involved in militant activity, including attacks against Israelis. Jalamneh had also been planning “to carry out a terror attack in the immediate future and used the hospital as a hiding place,” the military said.

Basil Ghazawi was paralyzed and had been treated in the hospital’s rehabilitation ward since late October, Nazzal said. The Israeli military said that he and Mohammed Ghazawi “hid inside the hospital.”

Basil Ghazawi was wounded in his spinal column by shrapnel from an Israeli drone strike on Oct. 25, Nazzal said. That could not be independently confirmed, but the Israeli military said at the time that a drone had fired on Palestinian gunmen who had hurled explosive devices and fired on Israeli soldiers in Jenin. It did not name Ghazawi.

Surging violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where millions of Palestinians live under Israeli military rule, has prompted fears of another front in the Middle East crisis spiraling out of Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Since the war in Gaza began, at least 367 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the highest toll in years, the United Nations said Monday.

Israel has escalated its attempts to crack down on Palestinian militant activity in the West Bank since Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attack on Israel prompted full-blown war. More than 2,980 Palestinians have been arrested since the beginning of the war in near-daily raids, more than 1,350 of them affiliated with Hamas, according to the Israeli military.

The covert raid within the hospital in Jenin raised questions under international law, experts said. Hospitals require special protection and respect under the laws of war, although that protection ceases if the compounds are used for military purposes, according to Eliav Lieblich, an expert on international law at Tel Aviv University.

If Ghazawi was indeed paralyzed and incapable of defending himself, he should not have been subject to attack under customary international law, Lieblich said. “Whether this was the case here is a question of fact,” he said.

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