Israeli forces disguised as medics kill three militants in West Bank hospital. According to both Israeli and Palestinian officials, the Israeli special forces entered the Ibn Sina hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday, where they shot and killed three Palestinian men.
Circulating CCTV footage on social media seemed to capture approximately a dozen commandos disguised as nurses, veiled women, and other civilians, with one pushing a wheelchair and another carrying a baby car seat, as they forcefully entered a hospital corridor armed with assault weapons.
The three men were reportedly asleep during the attack, according to the hospital. Hamas claimed one of them as a member, while Islamic Jihad claimed the other two.
Hamas further stated that all three were affiliated with the Jenin Brigade, a coalition of armed Palestinian factions in the city. Palestinian state news agency WAFA, citing hospital sources, reported that the disguised special forces entered the hospital individually, made their way to the third floor, and carried out the killings.
The conflict between Israel and Gaza has extended into the occupied West Bank, resulting in a toll of at least 381 Palestinian casualties since Hamas initiated attacks on Israel on October 7. Residents in the West Bank are confronting heightened restrictions and facing violence from settlers.
Tuesday's killings mark one of the most assertive Israeli raids since the onset of the war, prompting concerns from experts about potential violations of international humanitarian law by the IDF. The IDF stated that its target was Hamas fighter Mohammed Jalamneh, alleging his recent involvement in significant terrorist activities and his concealment in the Ibn Sina hospital. According to the IDF, Jalamneh was planning an imminent terror attack, inspired by the October 7 incident, and was discovered with a pistol.
The IDF reported that Mohammed and Basel Al-Ghazawi, two brothers associated with Islamic Jihad, were among those killed. According to the IDF, these individuals were using hospitals as hideouts and bases for planning and executing terrorist activities, exploiting them as shelters and human shields. Hamas has previously refuted such claims.
Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's National Security Minister from the far-right, posted the CCTV footage on social media and commended the raid.
"I congratulate and strengthen the naval commando forces of the Israeli police on their impressive operation last night in cooperation with the IDF and the Shin Bet in the Jenin refugee camp, which led to the elimination of three terrorists," Ben Gvir said alongside the video on X.
Hamas's military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, identified Jalamneh as one of its members and released a photo of him. The group stated that he was "martyred by the bullets of a special force from the occupation army that infiltrated Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin with his comrades Mohammed and Basil Ayman Al-Ghazawi," referring to them as "fighting martyrs."
Israeli soldiers in their military vehicle at the Gaza border
Basil Al-Ghazawi, according to Ibn Sina Hospital, had been undergoing treatment for injuries resulting from a rocket explosion within a Jenin cemetery back in October. There were no additional reports of casualties during the raid. The Palestinian Ministry of Health denounced the assault and urged the United Nations General Assembly to ensure the essential protection of medical facilities and emergency personnel.
"This crime comes after dozens of crimes committed by the occupation forces against treatment centers and crews. International law provides general and special protection for civilian sites, including hospitals," the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
During the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Israel has been heavily criticized for conducting operations in and around hospitals, which are safeguarded under international humanitarian law. However, experts noted that Tuesday's raid did not constitute an attack on the hospital itself, thereby not raising concerns about the protected status of hospitals.
Addressing the raid on Tuesday, the IDF's Chief of the General Staff, Herzi Halevi, asserted that the individuals targeted were part of a terrorist cell plotting a "serious attack" on Israeli civilians. He emphasized that the military would not permit hospitals to serve as a "cover for terrorism."
We do not want to turn hospitals into battlefields. 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, and one that allows terrorists to stash weapons, to rest, to go out to carry out an attack.- Herzi Halevi
Nevertheless, experts cautioned that the IDF's tactics in infiltrating the hospital may have breached international law. By disguising themselves as civilians and medical personnel, both of whom are afforded protected status, Israeli troops potentially engaged in perfidy, a form of deception deemed unlawful.
"The Israeli forces involved in the operation were dressed in civilian clothing and at least some were dressed as medical personnel, who enjoy protection under the law of armed conflict," Aurel Sari, a law professor at the University of Exeter in the UK said. "The killing of the three Palestinian men by Israeli forces dressed as medical personnel as part of a single attack therefore violates the prohibition of resort to perfidy."
International humanitarian law also prohibits the killing of the wounded and sick, who, like medical personnel and civilians, are entitled to protected status. "If they refrained from any hostile actions, killing them would constitute a breach of the laws of armed conflict," Sari emphasized.
When questioned about whether planning an attack against Israel constituted a hostile act, Sari noted that if the three individuals were members of organized armed groups, they could be subject to targeted attacks based on their status. However, Israel's use of disguised soldiers and the reported killing of an injured individual suggests that the operation may still have contravened international law.
The killing of the three Palestinians could have been lawful, in principle, if they were militants. However, not if they were wounded or through resort to perfidy.- Aurel Sari