The four Palestinian martyrs who were killed during the Israeli raid on Jenin, West Bank. Photo courtesy of WAFA News Agency
The Ministry confirmed that Khaled Asa'sah, 21, Ahmad Saqer, 15, Qassam Abu Siryie, 29, Qais Jabareen, 21, and a fifth still-unidentified person succumbed to wounds sustained during the raid, reported Palestinian News Agency “WAFA”.
The Israeli army said a "massive exchange of fire" erupted as their forces entered the city to arrest two "wanted suspects".
The Israeli army claimed in a statement that its helicopters opened fire on Palestinians during the extraction of Israeli ground forces, after they came under attack by explosives.
A Palestinian intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity that it was the first time since 2002 -- during the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising -- that the Israeli army has fired air-to-ground missiles during a raid in Jenin.
A "fierce and open war is being waged against the Palestinian people... by the Israeli occupation forces", said Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority's civil affairs minister.
He called for the Palestinian leadership to take "unprecedented decisions" without elaborating.
United Nations human rights chief, Volker Türk, said he was "extremely worried by the deteriorating situation".
"Unlawful killings of Palestinians by the Israeli security forces have increased, including apparent extrajudicial executions," he added.
Jenin's deputy governor, Kamal Abu al-Rub, told AFP that Israeli forces launched the raid at around 04:00 am (0100 GMT).
"The army stormed the Jenin refugee camp and the city in large numbers after the dawn prayer, and there was intense gunfire," he said.
An AFP photographer in the city confirmed that fighting was ongoing as of 12:30pm (0930 GMT).
The Palestinian health minister, Mai al-Kaila, has called publicly for the "urgent" dispatch of blood and medical supplies to Jenin.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War and its forces regularly launch incursions into Palestinian cities, which are nominally under the control of President Mahmud Abbas's Palestinian Authority.
Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp -- which were besieged by the army in 2002 and saw deadly fighting -- have frequently been the site of violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians.
In March, four Palestinians were killed during a raid on the camp.
Ten Palestinians were killed in another Israeli operation in the camp in January -- at the time the deadliest single raid in the West Bank for 20 years. An incursion into Nablus the following month killed 11 Palestinians.
Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated over the past year, coinciding with the formation of a hard-right government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in December.
Since the start of the year, at least 162 Palestinians, 21 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian have been killed in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.
The figures include combatants as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.