Updated Jan 26, 2023 - World

Palestinians suspend security coordination with Israel after deadly Jenin raid

An Israeli military vehicle in Jenin, occupied West Bank on Jan. 26.

An Israeli military vehicle in Jenin, occupied West Bank on Jan. 26. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday suspended its security coordination with Israel after Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Why it matters: The move is likely to escalate the situation in the West Bank even further and comes just days ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken's scheduled trip to the region, where he will meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the heightened tensions.

What they're saying: “The security coordination is nonexistent starting from now," the Palestinian Presidency said in a statement announcing the move.

  • The statement said the Palestinians will go immediately to the UN Security Council and ask for UN intervention and resume their bid to join UN agencies as full members.
  • The statement also said the Palestinian Authority will ask the International Criminal Court to add Thursday's incident in Jenin to its open investigation against Israel.

The Biden administration opposes the PA's decision to suspend security coordination with Israel, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East affairs Barbara Leaf said in a briefing with reporters ahead of Blinken’s trip to the region.

  • “We don’t think it is the right move right now. It is very important that both sides maintain security coordination and even deepen it. We will continue talking to the parties until the Secretary arrives in the region," Leaf said.
  • Leaf added that the Biden administration has been in close contact with both Israeli and Palestinian officials since early this morning and has encouraged them to de-escalate the situation and prevent further deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank.
  • State Department spokesperson Ned Price stressed in a statement later Thursday the "urgent need for all parties to de-escalate, prevent further loss of civilian life, and work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank."
  • "We recognize the very real security challenges facing Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and condemn terrorist groups planning and carrying out attacks against civilians," he added.
  • "We mourn the loss of innocent lives as well as injuries to civilians, and are deeply concerned by the cycle of violence in the West Bank."

UN envoy Tor Wennesland had earlier warned Palestinian officials that suspending security coordination with Israel could have high negative consequences and urged them not to take that step, according to a Western diplomat with direct knowledge of the conversation.

  • Wennesland also spoke to Israeli defense officials and passed them the message from the Palestinians and asked that Israel takes urgent steps to calm down the situation, the Western diplomat said.

Catch up quick: Thursday's raid took place in the Jenin refugee camp, a militant stronghold where the Israeli military has intensified its raids and operations over the last year.

  • The Israeli military said it carried out the raid after receiving intelligence about a group of Islamic Jihad operatives it suspected of carrying out armed attacks against Israeli soldiers. The group was planning more attacks, the Israeli military said.
  • At least 20 other Palestinians were injured. No injuries were reported among the Israeli special forces.
  • Palestinian officials called the operation a "massacre" and urged the international community to take action against Israel.

Flashback: The Palestinian Authority suspended its security coordination with Israel in May 2020 following the formation of a Netanyahu-led government that put a plan to annex large parts of the West Bank on its platform.

  • The security coordination was restored several months later after the annexation was taken off the table as a result of the Abraham Accords.

What to watch: Islamic Jihad official Khader Adnan told Al Jazeera on Thursday the group will do whatever it takes to defend the Palestinian people. Al Jazeera reported that the Islamic Jihad sent messages to Israel through mediators that it is ready and prepared for a confrontation.

  • Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, also said the “response of the resistance will not be delayed."
  • Two rockets were fired from Gaza and intercepted by Iron Dome, the Israeli military said late Thursday.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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