US seeks facts from Israel on Jenin raid that killed nine Palestinians
The US State Department's top official for the Middle East has said Washington is seeking information from Israel after its forces killed nine Palestinians during a raid on Thursday in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin.
In a briefing to reporters ahead of a trip to the region by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Barbara Leaf said US officials are seeking to understand what happened in the incident and urged de-escalation, describing the civilian casualties as "regrettable".
Heavily armed soldiers entered the Jenin camp on Thursday morning, reportedly in a commercial truck, and opened fire on residents attempting to block their entry.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's office said the killings were "a massacre from the Israeli occupation government, in the shadow of international silence".
"This is what encourages the occupation government to commit massacres against our people in full view of the world," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Abbas.
Leaf also urged the Palestinian Authority not to cut security ties with Israel. However, the PA ended up doing so, with the Palestinian presidency saying that "security coordination is nonexistent starting from now".
The raid comes ahead of a visit to Israel and other countries in the region by Blinken.
The raid was strongly condemned by Saudi Arabia, state news agency SPA reported, with the country's foreign ministry denouncing the Israeli forces' "storming of the city" that led to "the fall of a number of victims".
The ministry said Saudi Arabia decried "serious violations of international law by the Israeli occupation forces" and called on the international community to take responsibility to "end the occupation, stop the Israeli escalation and aggressions, and provide the necessary protection for civilians," SPA said.
Jordan, Kuwait and Oman also condemned the attack, according to news sites in their countries.
The Israeli military said it sent special forces into Jenin to detain members of the Islamic Jihad armed group that were suspected of having carried out and planning "multiple major terror attacks". Nine people were shot dead while 20 were injured when the Israeli army opened fire.
UN mediators said they were in talks with Israel and Palestinian factions in hopes of de-escalation after the killings in Jenin. Areas of the northern West Bank have seen intensified Israeli operations in the last year.
"I am deeply alarmed and saddened by the continuing cycle of violence in the occupied West Bank. The deaths today of nine Palestinians, including militants and one woman, during an Israeli arrest operation in Jenin is another stark example," said Tor Wennesland, the UN's special envoy to the Middle East.
"I urge, and remain actively engaged with, Israeli and Palestinian authorities to deescalate tensions, restore calm, and avoid further conflict."