November 23, 2002

Findings of the initial inquiry regarding the Jenin refugee camp
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

As part of the war against the terror infrastructure, IDF forces operated yesterday in the Jenin refugee camp. During the operation Abdallah Wachsh, a senior terrorist in the Islamic Jihad responsible for numerous terror attacks, among them the suicide attack in the Karkur junction, was arrested.

The operation in the Jenin refugee camp was conducted under a heavy exchange of fire between Palestinian terrorists and Israel soldiers, during which three IDF jeeps and an armored vest of one of the soldiers were damaged.

In an initial inquiry of the battle, it was found that the UNRWA headquarters in the Jenin refugee camp was used by the terrorists for firing at the IDF forces. In addition to the shooting from the UNWRA headquarters in the Jenin refugee camp, there were at least seven incidents in which direct fire was opened towards the IDF forces from the alleyway nearby the UNWRA headquarters during the exchange of fire. In two separate incidents, Palestinians opened fire using civilians as human shields for the terrorists to hide behind.

In one of the incidents, a terrorist opened fire from behind a woman holding an UNRWA flag. In these incidents, the Israeli forces, operating under strict rules of engagement, did not respond in a manner which could endanger innocent civilians.

Regarding the tragic death of the UNRWA official, the initial inquiry shows that two soldiers had identified in the UNRWA headquarters – from which Palestinians fired at the IDF forces – a man with an object which resembled a pistol, leading the force to fire in his direction, hitting him.

Immediately after the incident, the IDF began coordinating the evacuation of the UNRWA employee to a hospital in Israel in order that he could receive the best medical treatment available, but he died before he could be brought there.

The IDF expressed its sorrow over the death of the UNWRA employee. The IDF is continuing to conduct a thorough investigation of the events.

The IDF condemns the use made by Palestinian terrorists of areas populated by civilians; this use causes combat to be conducted in densely populated areas and endangers the lives of innocent civilians.