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Israeli forces kill 3 men accused of plotting Hamas terror attack in rare raid inside West Bank hospital

A look at the fighting near Khan Younis
A look inside Gaza as the fighting centers around Khan Younis 02:05

Jenin, West Bank — Undercover Israeli agents, some disguised as medical staff, raided a West Bank hospital Tuesday and shot dead three men whom the army said were Hamas militants planning a terror attack, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials. The raid in Jenin was the first such operation in eight years, and it drew quick condemnation from the Palestinian Authority that administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, issued a statement later mourning the three men as members of the group, and vowing that Israel's actions would "not go unanswered."

NOTE: This article includes an image showing dead bodies that some readers may find disturbing.

An AFP photographer saw what appeared to be a bullet hole in a pillow covered in blood following the raid at Ibn Sina Hospital in the northern city of Jenin, where Palestinians gathered around the bodies of those killed.

The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers entered the hospital — a major health facility serving Jenin city and its adjacent, sprawling Palestinian refugee camp — to target a "Hamas terrorist cell" that it said was planning "to carry out a terror attack in the immediate period."

Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinians during a raid in hospital in West Bank
A screengrab from a security camera inside the Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, West Bank, appears to show armed Israeli forces in disguise conducting a raid, Jan. 30, 2024. Ibn Sina Hospital/Anadolu via Getty

Mourners carried two of the men's bodies through the streets of Jenin on stretchers, each with a rifle laid across their chests and both draped in the flag of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.

Palestinians denounce raid as an Israeli crime

Announcing the killing by Israeli forces of three people inside the hospital, the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank stressed that health care facilities are granted special protection under international law. Unlike the much smaller Gaza Strip, the West Bank has never been controlled by Hamas, which has long been designated a terror group by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union. The West Bank is occupied militarily by Israel but administered by the Palestinian Authority.

"The minister of health calls urgently on the United Nations General Assembly, international institutions and human rights organizations to end the daily string of crimes committed by the occupation (Israel) against our people and health centers," the ministry said in a statement.

A screengrab from a security camera inside the Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, West Bank, appears to show armed Israeli forces in disguise conducting a raid, Jan. 30, 2024. Ibn Sina Hospital/Anadolu via Getty

Security camera video obtained by several international news agencies appears to show multiple armed men and women inside the hospital, disguised in medical uniforms or civilian clothes, moving through the wards with guns drawn. The video — which could not be immediately verified — appears to show them using a baby carrier and a wheelchair as props.

Hospital director Naji Nazzal told AFP that "a group of Israeli forces entered the facility undercover and assassinated the men." They used weapons fitted with silencers, he said.

Inside the hospital, the AFP photographer saw blood soaked into a mat and a chair and spattered across a wall.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa and the IDF identified the three men as Muhammad Jalamnah, Muhammad Ayman Ghazawi and Basel Ayman Ghazawi.

"The operation was carried out at the hospital's rehabilitation ward where Basel Ghazawi had been undergoing treatment," the hospital's director said.

IDF says suspect planned "terror attack in the immediate future"

The IDF, in a statement, called Jalamnah a Hamas terrorist who "had contacts with Hamas headquarters abroad and was even wounded when he tried to promote a car bombing attack."

"In addition, Jalamneh transferred weapons and ammunition to terrorists in order to promote shooting attacks, and planned a raid attack inspired by the October 7th massacre," the Israeli army said.

It said the other two men were Muhammad Ghazawi, "a terrorist operative of the Jenin Battalions who was involved in numerous attacks including firing at IDF soldiers in the area, and Basel Ghazawi from the Jenin Camp, Mohammed's brother, an Islamic Jihad terrorist organization operative involved in terror activities in the area."

Mourners march carrying the bodies of the two Ghazawi brothers, who were among three Palestinian men killed when undercover Israeli agents raided the Ibn Sina hospital in the city of Jenin, during the funeral in the occupied West Bank city, Jan. 30, 2024. ZAIN JAAFAR/AFP/Getty

Jalamneh "planned to carry out a terror attack in the immediate future and used the hospital as a hiding place and therefore was neutralized," the IDF said, calling the men's presence at the hospital "another example of the cynical use of civilian areas and hospitals as shelters and human shields by terrorist organizations."

The IDF's statement was accompanied by a single photo of a handgun and two ammunition clips that it described as "the weapon carried by the terrorist," without saying which of the men allegedly had the gun.

Increasing violence in the West Bank

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and it has stepped up incursions into the territory's Palestinian towns and cities since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, during which Israel officials say militants killed almost 1,200 people and kidnapped some 240 others.

Jenin has been the focus of repeated Israeli raids, in which the army has demolished homes and ripped up streets as well as carrying out airstrikes.

While Palestinians frequently accuse Israeli troops of preventing paramedics from reaching those wounded in incursions, deadly raids inside hospitals are rare. The last one happened on November 12, 2015, when undercover agents pretending to bring in a pregnant woman raided a hospital in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

They detained a Palestinian accused of a stabbing and killed his cousin inside Al-Ahli Hospital.

Palestinian shepherds in West Bank under attack by militant Israeli settlers 02:53

Since the Oct. 7 terror attack triggered the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, more than 370 people have been killed by Israeli troops — and armed Israeli settlers — in the West Bank, according to the health ministry in Ramallah. Palestinian civilians in the enclave told CBS News in November that emboldened settlers had also seized their homes and land by force amid the increasing attacks.

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