Israeli forces fire tear gas inside hospital during raid, organization says

125 people were treated due to the tear gas, Doctors Without Borders said.

July 5, 2023, 6:15 PM

Israeli forces were accused of firing tear gas inside of a hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday, causing 125 people to be treated.

The tear gas made the emergency room "unusable," and the ER and the rest of the hospital were "completely filled with smoke," after the attack, Doctors Without Borders said in a tweet Tuesday.

The Israel Defense Forces initially denied any fighting around the vicinity of the hospital but later acknowledged friction, IDF spokesman Richard Hecht told ABC News Wednesday, declining to elaborate further.

The two-day raid on the West Bank city of Jenin has killed 12 Palestinians, including three teens, and left at least 120 Palestinians injured, 20 of them in critical condition, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Tuesday. This is the largest raid in the West Bank since 2002.

The IDF claims that the Palestinians killed in the operation were militants.

"No non-combatants were killed during the counterterrorism activity in the Jenin Camp," Hecht said. "The IDF is not fighting against the Palestinian people - only against terrorist operatives. As is the case when operating in Jenin, the Gaza Strip or anywhere that terrorists threaten us, we make great efforts to avoid civilian casualties during operational activity and allow civilian life to continue. For example, tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians from the wider Jenin region continued to cross into Israel for work and humanitarian purposes during the operation."

As many as 3,000 refugees have been evacuated from Jenin since the Israeli operation began at 1:00 am local time on Monday, the Palestinian Red Crescent, an organization that works in the West Bank, said. The estimated population of the Jenin camp is about 18,000, according to the Red Crescent.

PHOTO: An Israeli armoured vehicle fires tear gas during an ongoing military operation in Jenin city in the occupied West Bank, July 4, 2023.
An Israeli armoured vehicle fires tear gas during an ongoing military operation in Jenin city in the occupied West Bank, July 4, 2023.
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Israeli military withdrew its forces from Jenin just after midnight Wednesday, ending the largest military operation it's conducted in the occupied West Bank in nearly 20 years.

Israeli officials defended the incursion as a counter-terrorism operation. Hecht told ABC News the aim was "to dismantle terrorist infrastructure in the area and break the mentality of the camp as a 'safe haven' for terrorist operatives."

Doctors Without Borders is one of the humanitarian organizations providing support and medical aid to Palestinians in Jenin impacted by the raid, but the damage is making it difficult to reach people in need, the organization said.

"Military bulldozers have destroyed road leading to the refugee camp, which is impeding ambulances from reaching patients," the organization said Monday in a statement. "All roads leading to the camp are blocked, including for ambulances."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an outpost near the Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday after a car rammed into a bus stop in Tel Aviv, injuring eight. In his remarks, Netanyahu doubled down on his justification for the raid, claiming Israeli forces destroyed important strongholds used by "terrorists."

"Whoever thinks that such an attack will deter us from continuing our fight against terrorism is wrong," Netanyahu said. "We will continue as long as necessary to stamp out terrorism."

Most of the Jenin refugee camp does not have access to drinking water because of damage from the raid, according to the United Nations. Initial estimates also show that most of the camp is without electricity, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesperson Vanessa Huguenin said Tuesday.

Health facilities have "sustained damage" from the raid and are "reviewing a list of urgently needed supplies," Huguenin added.

Huguenin said the UN OCHA is "alarmed at the scale of the air and ground operations" taking place in Jenin.

"We continue to monitor the situation on the ground and we – together with our humanitarian partners – are mobilizing to assist. We call for access to the injured and affected people within the Jenin refugee camp," Huguenin said.

Jordana Miller, Nasser Atta, and Emma Ogao contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect additional reporting.