Aqabet Jaber, occupied West Financial institution – Grief and shock fill the slender roads of this refugee camp within the Palestinian metropolis of Jericho.
Crowds of women and men donned in black made their manner on foot from funeral to funeral, whereas different residents spent the morning tending to the destruction of properties, farms and automobiles.
Early on Monday, Israeli forces carried out a large-scale raid of the Aqabet Jaber refugee camp that lasted for six hours. When it was over, 5 Palestinian males had been lifeless and two critically wounded – all of whom stay in Israeli custody.
4 of the 5 males had been from the Owaidat household, together with two brothers: Rafaat Wael Owaidat, 21, and Ibrahim Wael Owaidat, 27, and their cousins Adham Majdi Owaidat, 22, and Thaer Owaidat, 28. The fifth man killed was Malek Lafi, 22.
The Israeli navy mentioned in a press release all seven males had been armed fighters, and two of these killed had been answerable for an tried taking pictures at an Israeli fuel station named Almog, in occupied Jericho, on January 28.
Whereas it’s sure that armed clashes came about within the camp throughout Monday’s raid, it stays unsure whether or not the 5 lifeless and two wounded had been gunmen concerned.
‘Didn’t count on this barbarity’
Monday’s assault got here on the finish of a 10-day-long, suffocating Israeli military blockade on Jericho metropolis, and only a day after Israeli forces carried out one other main raid on the camp – on February 4 – wherein greater than a dozen Palestinians had been wounded and lots of properties destroyed.
Residents instructed Al Jazeera the Israeli military used extreme drive and brought on widespread destruction in a number of areas of the camp throughout each raids, together with utilizing bulldozers, stay ammunition, snipers, anti-tank grenades, and tear fuel canisters.
“We didn’t count on to face this sort of barbarity and maltreatment two days in a row,” mentioned Jihad Owaidat, 40, an uncle of two younger males killed on Monday.
“They raided a number of homes within the neighbourhood, compelled all of the residents to face outdoors for hours till the operation was over, together with the ladies and youngsters. They searched the boys in a barbaric manner – making them take off their garments within the chilly,” he mentioned.
“Half of the youngsters within the neighbourhood have psychological issues now.”
‘They stored beating me’
The assault on the refugee camp in Jericho got here as a part of rising Israeli navy raids and killings in Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps within the occupied West Financial institution.
Since September 2021, quite a lot of comparatively small, cross-factional Palestinian armed teams – targeted on deterring Israeli forces and defending their areas – have been fashioned primarily within the cities of Jenin and Nablus. Israel has got down to crush them for greater than a 12 months.
On Saturday, the first-ever photographs of fighters within the Aqabet Jaber refugee camp emerged throughout clashes with Israeli forces. This was adopted by a public assertion saying the newest armed group – the Aqabet Jaber Brigades.
Whereas Israel claims the raids and killings goal fighters, many civilians are sometimes focused and killed, arrested and or mistreated, and their property destroyed.
Final 12 months was mentioned to be the deadliest for Palestinians within the occupied West Financial institution for the reason that finish of the second Intifada, or mass rebellion, in 2005.
Israeli forces killed 171 Palestinians, together with greater than 30 kids, within the West Financial institution, whereas 53 different Palestinians, together with 17 kids, had been killed throughout a three-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip in August.
Throughout Monday’s raid in Jericho, Israeli forces wrecked the small, two-storey residence of 61-year-old Adel Hassan Owaidat utilizing anti-tank Energa grenades, whereas he and 7 members of the family had been inside.
“Two of my sons and my nephew had been on the staircase coming all the way down to the underside flooring when our whole high flooring was all of a sudden shelled with two grenades,” Adel instructed Al Jazeera.
“Minutes later, the tractor actually jammed into the underside flooring and commenced destroying it. The troopers had been shouting on the speaker: ‘Deliver out the saboteurs!’ We instructed them, ‘There are not any fighters in the home,’” he continued.
“They instructed us, ‘Come out or we are going to demolish the home on high of your heads.’ They made us come out, one after the other, with our palms up. They strip-searched us within the freezing chilly, and made us stand on the aspect [of the road] for hours and requested questions.”
Shortly after, Israeli forces entered the house and fired numerous rounds by the partitions.
Adel requested the troopers, “You went in and searched and also you didn’t discover something, so why did you retain taking pictures inside the home and wrecking it?”
He mentioned it is going to take about 200,000 Israeli shekels ($57,400) to restore it.
Adel, together with two of his sons and nephew, had been arrested and brought into custody for extra questioning that lasted eight hours. All had been launched with out cost.
“They stored beating me,” Adel’s 17-year-old son Mohammad chimed in. “They might throw us on the bottom on the rocks with our palms cuffed behind our backs. They might ask: ‘The place is Malek, the place is Raafat?’ And once I mentioned I didn’t know, they’d kick me and beat me with their rifles.”
Israel’s navy mentioned it was looking the camp for “members of a terror cell that tried to hold out a taking pictures assault” in Jericho in January.
In one other nook of the camp, the moms of three Palestinians killed on Monday sat aspect by aspect amongst a crowd of household and buddies who consoled them as Quranic verses performed within the background.
The moms mentioned whereas they knew their sons had chosen the trail of resistance and revered them for it, nothing eases the ache of shedding a baby.
Umm Ibrahim, the 47-year-old mom of Ibrahim and Raafat Owaidat, mentioned Israel is “answerable for every little thing taking place”.
“What do you suppose pushed my sons on this route? They had been stuffed with anger and ache over the on a regular basis killings, the prisoners – every little thing. That they had loyalty to this nation,” she instructed Al Jazeera, noting Raafat would take part in confrontations each time the Israeli military raided the camp.
“When Raafat’s pal was arrested, he began working tougher so he may cowl the household’s bills, together with the lawyer,” she added.
‘Born below occupation’
Hanadi Mahmoud, mom of slain Adham Owaidat, described her son as “somebody who beloved life”.
“These are our lands – Israel got here to us. It arrests, destroys properties, steals land. And now they kill my son and withhold his physique?” she instructed Al Jazeera. “That is the state of affairs of the Palestinian individuals – and the Palestinian mom.”
In the meantime, the mom of Thaer Owaidat, a father to 4 kids, mentioned her son was “15 when he was first imprisoned”.
The younger individuals on the camp mentioned they anticipated the state of affairs there to maneuver in direction of one other critical escalation.
“We had been born below occupation. What occurred is a response to every little thing that is occurring at Al-Aqsa [Mosque], the bloodbath in Jenin, Nablus, the every day martyrs,” mentioned Adnan al-Mgaiti, a resident in his mid-20s.
“For each Palestinian who’s courageous and has honour and pleasure, the doorway of a military four-wheel drive into the camp won’t ever be regular. It by no means passes with ease. We all the time have confrontations throughout raids, however there isn’t any media consideration for Jericho.”
Adnan mentioned whereas he “doesn’t know what’s going to occur, it appears there are younger males working” for armed resistance of the camp – as many others are throughout the occupied West Financial institution.