The White House has expressed support for a major Israeli offensive that was launched against the occupied West Bank city of Jenin early Monday.
“We support Israel’s security and right to defend its people against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said, according to AFP.
Amid the ongoing raid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted US support for Israel, which includes $3.8 billion in annual military aid. “America has provided Israel with moral and political backing against those who would wipe us out, the only Jewish state,” he said. “Security cooperation has never been better; intelligence sharing has never been deeper.”
The Netanyahu government has significantly stepped up raids in the West Bank since taking power at the end of December. The government includes extremist settlers, and the coalition has vowed to prioritize expanding settlements in the West Bank with the ultimate goal of annexing the territory. The policies have sparked more armed Palestinian resistance.
According to Al Jazeera, the attack on Jenin was launched by 1,000 Israeli troops, 150 armored vehicles, and air power. The Israeli military said Monday that it launched around 20 drone strikes across Jenin and vowed that the operation would last longer than one day.
Palestinian authorities have reported at least eight Palestinians have been killed in the offensive, which has been described as the worst attack on the city since 2002. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, two of those killed were children: Nouruddin Husam Yousef Marshoud, 15, and 17-year-old Majdi Younis Saud. The death toll is expected to rise as the city has now been under siege for 24 hours.
Israel launched the offensive to root out armed resistance groups in Jenin, but the city’s mayor said civilians are also being killed. “Those being targeted now are not just the resistance fighters, but civilians are being killed and wounded as well,” Nidal Obeidi told Al Jazeera.