How Israeli forces assassinated three Palestinians in a raid on a West Bank hospital – Mondoweiss
Abeer Al-Ghazawi went to sleep last night feeling reassured, knowing that her son, Basel, was lying in Jenin’s Ibn Sina Hospital, accompanied by his brother, Mohammed. For her, the hospital represented the safest place in their hometown of Jenin. For months, the Israeli army has stepped up its operations in the northern West Bank city and its refugee camp, conducting violent raids and drone strikes that have killed dozens.
Basel, 19, was receiving treatment for a critical injury he sustained last October when an Israeli drone strike rendered him paraplegic, bound to a wheelchair. Accompanying him in the hospital were his older brother, Mohammed, 24, and their friend, Mohammed Jalamneh, 28. According to witnesses, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 30, the three young men were asleep in Basel’s hospital room when an undercover unit of Israeli special forces entered their room on the third floor of the hospital and executed them at point-blank range, with silenced firearms.
A dozen Israeli special forces disguised as Palestinian hospital workers and civilians – including soldiers dressed as veiled Palestinian women, one carrying a baby carrier and hospital workers, and another disguised as a patient in a wheelchair – infiltrated the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, assaulting the on-duty nurse.
Captured on CCTV footage, the disguised Israeli soldiers can be seen moving through the hospital ward with their assault rifles drawn. While some of the soldiers put down their baby carriers and other disguises, at least one soldier can be seen holding up a civilian man at gunpoint. The civilian is down on his knees with his hands up behind his head. The Israeli soldier pulls off the man’s jacket and then places it on his head.
Out of the frame of the CCTV footage, which was released by the Ibn Sina Hospital, the special forces made their way to Basel’s room. There, they entered the room where the three young men were sleeping. The soldiers fired five shots, killing Basel, his brother Mohammed, and their friend Mohammed while they were asleep. Within 10 minutes the forces had withdrawn from the scene.
An eyewitness and patient at the hospital, who requested anonymity, informed Mondoweiss that he heard screams on the floor and went out to see three armed individuals in front of him. One of the soldiers, the witness recounted, was holding the on-duty nurse and “continuously beating her on the head.”
The soldiers yelled at the man to get back into his room. He told Mondoweiss that when he attempted to exit his room again to see what was happening, the forces fired live shots toward his room.
He continued, stating that after the forces withdrew he rushed into the room the soldiers had been in only to find the three martyrs “lying in their beds, blood flowing from their heads.” He said the operation inside the room lasted no longer than three minutes, and that he realized that the individuals he saw were “musta’ribeen”, the Arabic term for the special unit of Israeli forces who disguise themselves as Palestinians to carry out abductions and assassinations in the occupied Palestinian territory, when he heard them speaking Hebrew.
The witness described what he saw as “the most harrowing scene” he had witnessed in his life. When he tried to lay his head down and rest after the attack, he said he was unable to sleep, as the horrific scenes of bloodied hospital beds played through his mind.
Mondoweiss visited the scene of the assassination hours after it took place. The wheelchair-accessible bed where Basel slept, was stained with blood. The pillow where he lay was bloodied, and covered with brain and skull fragments.
Next to Basel’s bed were remnants of his last meal.
Meanwhile, the blood of his brother and their friend was splattered across the walls and floor of the room where they slept.
The Shin Bet (Shabak), Israel’s internal intelligence agency, and the Israeli army acknowledged in a joint statement that they were involved in the operation inside the hospital. They stated that they “thwarted a group of Hamas militants who were hiding in Ibn Sina Hospital in the city of Jenin, planning to launch an attack imminently.”
Mohammed Jalamneh was claimed by Hamas as a member, while the two brothers, Basel and Mohammed, were claimed as members by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group. All three young men were said to be fighters with the Jenin Brigade, a cross-factional Palestinian resistance group inside Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp.
While Basel was effectively disabled and relegated to a wheelchair, neither he nor his brother or friend were actively engaged in armed combat when they were shot in the head. According to the hospital, the three were sleeping when they were assassinated.
Still, and despite serious allegations that the assassination constituted a war crime, Israeli officials celebrated the operation.
“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,” Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said alongside the video on X.
Walid Jalamneh, the father of the martyr Mohammed, rejected and denounced the official Israel military statement, expressing his dismay at the intrusion into the hospital and the violation of the sanctity of medical facilities. He stated that the attack was a “clear crime and a violation of international laws.”
He said, “Yes, it’s true that my son is wanted by the [Israeli] occupation, but the invasion of the hospital in this manner while he was accompanied by his friend and his sick brother is a crime.”
The Jenin Brigade, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, denounced in a military statement the assassination of the three martyrs inside the hospital.
The group vowed to respond, affirming their commitment to “continue the path paved by the martyrs with their pure blood,” asserting that these assassinations will not weaken their determination.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health released a statement urgently calling upon the United Nations General Assembly, international institutions, and human rights organizations to promptly put an end to the “daily series of crimes committed by the occupation against the people and healthcare centers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” and to offer the “necessary protection for medical facilities and personnel.”
The statement further emphasized that this crime is “part of a series of dozens of crimes committed by the occupying forces against medical facilities and personnel,” and mentioned that international law provides general and specific protection for civilian locations, including hospitals, as stipulated in the Fourth Geneva Convention and the First and Second Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, as well as the Hague Convention of 1954.
Wesam Sbeihat, the Director of the Ministry of Health in Jenin, told Mondoweiss “The intrusion into hospital wards and rooms, as well as the execution and assassination inside the hospital of a patient and his companions, is a crime that is documented and added to the list of occupation crimes against medical teams and hospitals. The occupation must be held accountable for its crimes.”
“We also have the medical report for the patient who was assassinated today; he has been undergoing medical rehabilitation for months, contrary to the occupation’s claim that he was hiding inside the hospital,” added Sbeihat.
Since 2022, Israel has been attempting to eliminate resistance in the Jenin camp and city through various means, including aerial bombardment, assassinations, and executions of militants. However, this marks the first time that the occupation has invaded a hospital and carried out an assassination operation inside it.
This incident also comes just days after the International Court of Justice ruled that the claim of genocide made by South Africa against Israel was “plausible,” ordering Israel to “prevent genocidal acts” in Gaza.
Since the start of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip on October 7, the Israeli military and government have continued to perpetuate the narrative that Palestinian militant groups use hospitals for their operations. Despite a lack of concrete evidence of any Hamas “command centers” inside or underneath hospitals in Gaza, Israel has continued to attack Gaza’s hospitals as its ground forces make their way through the Strip.
The Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli military, Herzi Halevi, commented on the assassination at the hospital, claiming the three young men were “involved in a terrorist cell planning a serious attack on Israeli civilians.” Halevi said the Israeli army “would not allow hospitals to become 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,” he said.
Shatha Hanaysha is a Palestinian journalist based in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.