Israel carries out killings, revenge demolitions in Nablus

The funeral procession for two Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus (Shadi Jarar'ah - APA Images)

Tamara Nassar

The Electronic Intifada  /  July 29, 2022

Two Palestinian resistance fighters were killed by Israeli occupation forces during a raid in Nablus, a city in the occupied West Bank, on Sunday.

Undercover forces belonging to Israel’s Yamam unit raided the city purportedly to detain a Palestinian allegedly involved in an incident last month at Joseph’s Tomb where resistance fighters opened fire on Israelis.

Israeli occupation forces surrounded a home where Palestinian fighters were located. Israel claims that a firefight ensued and two Palestinians were killed.

But Israel’s use of a missile against the house suggests the Israeli attack may have been an application of the so-called “pressure cooker procedure,” a form of extrajudicial execution.

As part of this procedure, occupation forces fire progressively more powerful weapons at the house in an effort to force those inside to surrender. If they refuse to do so, the occupation forces demolish the house killing all those inside.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Nablus reported that “Israeli forces entered the old city in Nablus and shelled a house where gunmen were sheltering and shot dead Palestinian men, both in their twenties.”

Israeli fire killed Muhammad Bashar Azizi, 25, with a bullet to the chest, and Abdulrahman Jamal Sobh, 28, with a bullet to the head, according to the Palestinian health ministry. They were claimed as members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group associated with the Fatah party.

No Israeli forces were injured.

The ministry reported that six other Palestinian civilians were injured during the raid in Nablus, two of them seriously.

The Palestinian allegedly involved in the shooting at Joseph’s Tomb that Israeli forces say they invaded Nablus to arrest attended the massive funeral held for the two slain fighters. Thousands were in attendance.

Joseph’s Tomb is an archeological site in the heart of the city, and is considered sacred by Muslims, Christians and Jews. However, Israel uses it is a pretext to maintain a settler foothold in the heart of Nablus, a major Palestinian commercial and cultural hub.

Militant Israeli settlers frequently visit the site under heavy escort from the Israeli army, which sometimes shoot at Palestinians, injuring them with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad resistance group, claimed responsibility for shooting at the soldiers and settlers in retaliation for the killing of its member Muhammad Maher Marei during an Israeli invasion of Jenin refugee camp a day earlier.

Collective punishment

Meanwhile in Nablus on Monday, Israeli forces demolished the family homes of two Palestinians accused of fatally shooting an Israeli guard at a settlement in the occupied West Bank in April.

Israel perpetrates punitive home demolitions against the families of Palestinians accused of violence but never against the families of Jews. The practice is a form of collective punishment and thus a war crime.

Samih al-Assi and Yahya Miri, who Israel accused of killing the settlement guard, were detained after a 20-hour manhunt.

Israeli forces arrived in the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan near Nablus on Monday morning “accompanied with vehicles, trucks and demolition equipment,” according to an investigation by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

The Israelis used bulldozers to demolish al-Assi’s family home, leaving eight people, including his wife and five children, homeless.

Israel destroyed the four-story home of Miri’s family with explosives, making 10 people, including three children, homeless.

“Israeli occupation forces suddenly raided our house and informed us to evacuate as they would blow it up in two minutes,” Muhammad Miri, Yahya’s father, told a PCHR fieldworker.

“I told them to give us some time because it is not that easy to evacuate as we have children, an elderly and medicines. We were not given enough time and could not take anything from the house except for my 86-year-old father’s medicine,” he added.

“Later, they detonated the house, turning it into a pile of rubble.”

As PCHR notes, the Fourth Geneva Convention states that in an occupied territory, “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

But the impunity Israel enjoys guarantees that revenge demolitions will continue.

In 2022, Israeli forces have punitively demolished eight homes and sealed a ninth. Many other homes are threatened with revenge demolition.

Altogether, the Israeli army has destroyed more than 400 Palestinian structures this year, displacing over 550 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, according to UN monitoring group OCHA.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada