Maureen Clare Murphy
The Electronic Intifada / May 4, 2023
Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in the northern West Bank on Wednesday.
Three of those slain were claimed as members of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, who were killed during an Israeli raid in Nablus.
Israel claimed that two of the men carried out a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley three weeks ago that resulted in the deaths of an Israeli-British settler and two of her daughters.
Additionally, a Palestinian woman was shot and killed in Huwwara, near Nablus, in what Israeli authorities claimed was a stabbing attack against troops.
WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, reported that undercover Israeli forces infiltrated the Old City of Nablus on Thursday morning and besieged a home in the Yasmina neighborhood amid a large deployment of military reinforcements.
Palestinian outlets published video that is said to show the undercover forces, dressed as Palestinian civilians, including as women, entering the area:
VIDEO : Israel kills four Palestinians in northern West Bank | The Electronic Intifada
Initial reports suggest that Israel may have used the “pressure cooker” procedure during the raid, a form of extrajudicial execution by which occupation forces fire progressively more powerful weapons at a targeted building in an effort to force those inside to surrender. If they refuse to do so, the military demolishes the building, killing all those inside.
Eyewitnesses told WAFA that Israeli forces fired live bullets at the besieged house as well as several anti-tank missiles while preventing paramedics from accessing the area.
The slain men were identified as Muath Masri, Ibrahim Jabr and Hasan Qatnani.
A massive funeral procession was held in Nablus for the Palestinians killed in the Thursday raid.
Israeli authorities claimed that troops raided Nablus to arrest Qatnani and al-Masri over their alleged roles in the deadly Jordan Valley shooting attack.
A director with the Palestine Red Crescent Society said that 166 people were injured during the raid, most of them from tear gas inhalation. Four people were wounded by live fire.
Schools in the area were forced to suspend classes amid fierce confrontations between occupation forces and Palestinian fighters during the daytime raid.
Once rare, daytime raids resulting in multiple Palestinian fatalities in areas under supposed Palestinian Authority control, such as the one in Nablus on Thursday, are becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence, particularly in the northern West Bank.
More than 170 Palestinians died during raids, typically before dawn, in the West Bank last year, according to Al-Jazeera.
On Thursday, the Qassam Brigades said that the Jordan Valley shooting operation was in response to Israeli police assaults on worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.
Aim to kill
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, praised those who carried out the deadly raid on Thursday for “settling the score,” suggesting that the aim was to kill the wanted Palestinians, rather than arrest them.
“Our message to those who harm us and those trying to harm us is that it may take a day, a week or a month, but be sure that we’ll settle the score with you,” Netanyahu said.
“It doesn’t matter where you try to hide, we’ll find you. Whoever harms us forfeits his life.”
Human rights groups have long protested Israel’s shoot to kill policy, saying that it is tantamount to a de facto death sentence, even though capital punishment is banned by that country.
Netanyahu’s comments confirm that this is the case.
In 2015, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said that Netanyahu was responsible for “the transformation of police officers, and even of armed civilians, into judges and executioners” who slay Palestinians suspected of armed attacks in the streets.
Since then, scores of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and armed civilians in what may amount to extrajudicial executions.
Among them is Iman Ziyad Odeh, 26, who was shot and killed during an alleged stabbing attack in Huwwara, a town south of Nablus, on Thursday.
An Israeli soldier was reported to have been lightly wounded.
The Israeli military “said the wounded soldier managed to push the female Palestinian attacker away, before he and a soldier stationed with him in the Palestinian town shot her,” The Times of Israel reported.
The Israeli military published a photo of the knife that Odeh is alleged to have used in Huwwara, where a Palestinian man was killed during an hours-long rampage by hundreds of settlers in February after two Israeli brothers were shot dead in the town.
Also on Thursday, Israel transferred the body of Abdulkarim Badi al-Shaikh, 21, who was shot and killed by an Israeli man on 10 March after allegedly infiltrating a settlement outpost near the West Bank city of Qalqilya while carrying a knife and makeshift “explosives,” the Israeli military claimed.
Israel routinely withholds the bodies of Palestinians slain by its forces in the course of what it claims were attacks on Israelis so that they may be used as bargaining chips in future negotiations.
Israeli forces have killed six Palestinians since the beginning of May, including a 17-year-old boy shot with live fire during a raid in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp near the West Bank city of Jericho and a 58-year-old man in northern Gaza who died when his roof collapsed during Israeli bombing.
Israeli troops, police and armed civilians have killed 109 Palestinians since the beginning of the year, according to The Electronic Intifada’s tracking. That figure includes Palestinians who died from injuries sustained in previous years.
Twenty Israelis were killed by Palestinians so far this year or died as a result of injuries sustained previously.
Israeli hospitals refused hunger striker
Additionally, two Palestinians died in Israeli custody this year, including baker and Islamic Jihad faction leader Khader Adnan, who lost his life early Tuesday after 86 days on hunger strike.
More than a dozen Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups said on Thursday that Adnan may still be alive if the Israeli authorities would have ensured his transfer to an appropriate medical facility.
Two Israeli hospitals refused to admit Adnan, claiming that he was unwilling to undergo medical tests and monitoring, the rights groups said, and the Israeli health ministry “refused to intervene and instruct hospitals to admit him.”
However, as Amnesty International stated on Thursday, “a doctor who visited him during his hunger strike told Amnesty International that authorities had denied him access to the independent specialized medical treatment and monitoring he needed.”
“The doctor said Khader Adnan had requested to be kept under medical supervision in a civilian hospital, but the Israeli Prison Service had sent him back to his prison cell where guards came in every half hour to see if he was still alive.”
Had he been in a hospital “he may have been resuscitated – a wish that he had previously expressed to Physicians for Human Rights Israel’s chairperson, Dr. Lina Qasem Hassan, who visited him” in late April.
Meanwhile, the Israeli prison authorities, which are under the authority of the extremist far-right Israeli public security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, prevented Adnan’s wife and children from visiting their husband and father while he was known to be on the brink of death.
“Israel’s unjust system of arrests and detention are part and parcel of the policies used by Israel to maintain its occupation and apartheid regime,” the rights groups added.
“At this time, we call on the international community to ensure that Israel delivers Mr. Adnan’s body to his family, so that they may bury him.”
Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada