Israeli undercover forces dressed as women and medics kill 3 militants in West Bank hospital


JENIN, West Bank (AP) — Israeli forces disguised as civilian women and medical workers stormed a hospital Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing three Palestinian militants in a dramatic raid that underscored how deadly violence has spilled into the territory from the war in Gaza.

The military said the militants were using the hospital as a hideout. It alleged that one of those targeted in the raid had transferred weapons and ammunition to others for a planned attack, purportedly inspired by the Hamas assault on southern Israel on Oct. 7 that triggered the war in Gaza.

Footage said to be security camera video from the hospital that circulated on social media showed about a dozen undercover forces, most of them armed, dressed as women with Muslim headscarves or hospital staff in scrubs or white doctor’s coats. One in a surgical mask carried a rifle in one arm and a folded wheelchair in the other. The forces were seen patting down one man who kneeled against a wall, his arms raised.

The Associated Press has not independently verified the footage, but it is in line with its reporting.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, even as talks inched forward on a cease-fire to pause the war, which began when hundreds of Hamas-led militants stormed into Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 250 others.

In response, Israel launched a blistering air, sea and ground offensive that killed more than 26,700 people in Gaza, according to claims by the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza. The ministry count does not distinguish between fighters and noncombatants.

Israel has come under heavy criticism for its raids on hospitals in Gaza. Israel says militants use hospitals as cover, hiding out in them or launching operations from them. The military has found underground tunnels in the vicinity of hospitals, and says it has located weapons and vehicles used in the Oct. 7 attack on hospital grounds.

Since Oct. 7, violence in the West Bank has also surged as Israel has cracked down on suspected militants, killing more than 380 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Most were killed in confrontations with Israeli forces during arrest raids or violent protests.

The Israeli military says it has arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinians in the West Bank over the past four months.

The military said in Tuesday's hospital raid, forces killed Mohammed Jalamneh, 27, who it said was planning an imminent attack. The two other men killed, brothers Basel and Mohammed Ghazawi, were hiding inside the hospital and were involved in attacks, the military claimed.

The military did not provide details on how the three were killed. Its statement said Jalamneh was armed with a pistol, but made no mention of an exchange of fire.

Hamas claimed the three men as members, calling the operation “a cowardly assassination.”

The raid took place in Jenin, long a bastion of armed struggle against Israel and the frequent target of Israeli raids even before the war began.

Progress, meanwhile, appeared elusive on a new deal between Israel and Hamas that could lead to a pause in fighting and see the release of dozens of hostages still held in Gaza.

Israel had said that cease-fire talks held Sunday were constructive but that “significant gaps” remained in any potential agreement.

The prime minister of Qatar — which has served as a key mediator along with Egypt and the United States — was more upbeat, saying American and Middle Eastern mediators had reached a framework proposal. Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Monday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the mediators had made “good progress.”

The Israeli military said it was fighting Palestinian militants in south, central and northern Gaza, which was pummeled in the first weeks of the war and where Israel has claimed to have largely dismantled Hamas. It said aircraft destroyed the rocket launcher that fired a barrage of rockets at central Israel on Monday, the first rockets targeting the populated area in weeks.