The Israeli military carried out a rare airstrike on a mosque in the occupied West Bank overnight, killing at least two people in what Palestinian officials called a “dangerous escalation.”
The strike hit a mosque in the densely packed Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in the northern West Bank. Israel’s military said it was targeting an underground “terror compound” beneath the mosque that it said was being used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to organize an imminent attack. Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, called the activity going on beneath the mosque a “ticking time bomb.” The claims had not been independently verified.
At least two people were killed and three others were injured, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Video from the scene showed significant damage to the mosque.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called the strike a “dangerous escalation in the use of warplanes,” saying in a statement that Israel appeared to be bringing tactics used in the Gaza Strip to the occupied West Bank.
After a lull of nearly two decades, Israel resumed limited airstrikes in the West Bank in July, mostly by means of drones, during a two-day siege and assault on the Jenin refugee camp which the Israeli military said was aimed at rooting out armed groups.
Violence has been surging in the West Bank in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks that Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, launched against Israel. The Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank said 90 Palestinians had been killed since Oct. 7 in the occupied territory in clashes with Israeli forces and attacks by armed Israeli settlers, by far the most in any two consecutive weeks this year. Israeli officers have arrested hundreds of Palestinians, according to Palestinian and Israeli accounts.