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Disguised Israeli forces kill 3 Palestinian militants in raid on West Bank hospital

Israeli commandos disguised as medical workers and Muslim women burst into a hospital in the occupied West Bank and killed three Palestinian militants, one of them lying paralysed in bed, witnesses and authorities said.

The Israeli military said the three militants were killed in a joint undercover operation by the army, Shin Bet security service and border police in the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, one of the most volatile cities in the West Bank.

The military identified one of the men as Mohammad Walid Jalamna, a Hamas member who, it said, was planning an attack inspired by the Hamas-led rampage across Gaza’s border, into Israel on October 7. A pistol was recovered, the military said.

The military said the two others, the brothers Basel Al-Ghazzawi and Mohammad Al-Ghazzawi, belonged to the Jenin Brigade and the armed wing of Islamic Jihad.

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The Palestinian health ministry confirmed the deaths and called on the United Nations to guarantee protection for health centres. “The occupation is committing a new massacre inside hospitals,” it said in a statement.

CCTV footage from the hospital showed a group of about 10 people, dressed variously in civilian clothes and medical garb including three in headscarves and women’s clothing, pacing through a corridor, armed with assault rifles.

“We do not want to turn hospitals into battlefields, with patients on the right and doctors and nurses on the left, and terrorists in the middle,” Israel’s military chief Herzi Halevi told troops near Gaza.

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“But we are even more determined not to allow hospitals in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Lebanon, above ground or in tunnel shafts and tunnels under hospitals, to become a place that is a cover for terrorism,” he said, using the Hebrew biblical term for the West Bank.

The hospital’s director, Dr Naji Nazzal, said the Israeli team entered the hospital at around 5:30 a.m. (0330 GMT) and made its way stealthily to the third floor, ringing the bell to enter the ward where the men were sleeping.

“They executed the three men as they slept in the room,” he told Reuters. “They executed them in cold blood by firing bullets directly into their heads in the room where they were being treated.”

Hours later, a bloodied blue hospital pillow pierced by a bullet remained on a bed, while a folding bed nearby was also stained with blood, apparently from a shot to the head.

Nazzal said Basil Ayman Al-Ghazzawi had been receiving treatment since October 25 for a spinal injury that paralysed him.

The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad militant group said the Al-Ghazzawi brothers were members of its armed wing, while Hamas confirmed that Jalamna belonged to its Al Qassam Brigade.

The Israeli military said the three had been hiding in the hospital and said it was “another example of the cynical use of civilian areas and hospitals as shelters and human shields by terrorist organisations”. Hamas has denied such allegations.

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The dramatic operation in the early hours of the morning was the latest in a series of incidents in the West Bank, which has seen an explosion of violence since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7 and the subsequent invasion of Gaza by Israel.

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Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, has witnessed some of the biggest clashes, with repeated Israeli attacks on the densely packed Palestinian refugee camp adjoining the city.

Thousands of mourners poured into the streets of the camp during the day as the three men killed in the raid were buried.

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By RANEEN SAWAFTA

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