Israel kills six Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza

Maureen Clare Murphy

The Electronic Intifada  /  September 20, 2023

A 19-year-old Palestinian man was fatally shot by Israeli occupation forces early Wednesday when they raided Aqabat Jabr refugee camp.

Israeli special forces raided the camp in Jericho, in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley, in order to carry out arrests.

Residents confronted the invaders who opened fire with live ammunition hitting several people, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Dirgham Muhammad Yahya al-Akhras was evacuated to Jericho hospital with gunshot wounds to the head, where the teen was later pronounced dead.

Since the start of the year, 13 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the Jericho area, as occupation forces have stepped up raids, searching and ransacking dozens of homes and detaining residents, WAFA reported.

Another deadly raid in Jenin

Wednesday morning’s attack came after Israeli forces killed at least four Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

Three Palestinians were killed and at least more were 30 wounded, one critically, in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank city on Tuesday night.

A fourth Palestinian died Wednesday from wounds sustained during the previous night’s Israeli attack on Jenin.

Israel launched an airstrike on the refugee camp and ground forces surrounded a home belonging to Muhammad Abu al-Baha, reportedly the leader of the al-Aqsa Matyrs Brigades in Jenin.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is nominally affiliated with the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

PA security forces have pursued a campaign against armed resistance activists following Israel’s two-day military operation in Jenin refugee camp in early July – the largest such offensive in the West Bank in two decades.

A total of 13 Palestinians were killed during the incursion or later died from their injuries and an Israeli soldier was mistakenly killed by troops.

Israeli media said that the military arrested two Palestinians reportedly affiliated with the Islamic Jihad resistance faction.

Palestinians in the camp declared victory, after both Israel’s withdrawal following the July incursion and the raid on Tuesday.

In both cases, Palestinian resistance factions said they had anticipated and thwarted Israeli ground forces.

Israeli military vehicles damaged

The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that fighters engaged in a heavy firefight with a special forces unit that had infiltrated the camp, prompting the army to send in reinforcements.

The resistance group added that several improvised explosives were detonated during the raid. An explosive device planted on a road was detonated in a precise ambush of an armored military vehicle, the Qassam Brigades said.

The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz said that while the military was withdrawing, “an explosive device detonated near one of the army’s vehicles, causing it considerable damage.”

“The vehicle is currently awaiting rescue which requires the military’s engineering tools,” the paper added.

The Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the precise detonation of two improvised explosives, causing severe damage to Israeli military vehicles.

The Israeli military said that it used a suicide drone against armed Palestinians who endangered its forces.

Palestinian outlets reported that Israeli forces targeted the main transformer in the camp, knocking out the electricity supply.

Video from the raid appears to show Israeli fire directed at the minaret of a mosque in the camp:

Mahmoud al-Saadi, 23, Raafat Khamaysa, 22, and Mahmoud Ararawi, 24, were identified as three of those killed during Tuesday’s raids.

Al-Saadi had been previously detained for 75 days by PA security forces in Jenin.

On Wednesday morning, medical officials in the West Bank announced that 29-year-old Yasir Ata Mousa had died of gunshot wounds sustained the previous night’s Israeli raid.

Jenin camp protests PA, Abbas

The Israeli attack came as Jenin’s renowned Freedom Theater was packed with people watching a performance.

​​”It was incredibly difficult on us, you had all elderly people and small children cramming together, all terrified,” a worker at the theater told the Associated Press.

Haaretz, citing footage shared by camp residents, said that after the military’s withdrawal, “dozens of gunmen and residents poured into the streets to protest against the Palestinian Authority and its failure to protect them,” condemning Abbas by name.

After Israel’s incursion in July, Abbas made his first ever visit to Jenin refugee camp since being elected Palestinian Authority president in 2005 (elections have not been held since then).

Flanked by senior officials, including Hussein al-Sheikh and Majed Faraj, Abbas attempted to reassert Ramallah’s authority and consolidate its power in the city – a demonstration for both the Palestinian public and the PA’s Israeli interlocutors and its American and European sponsors.

Last month, a Palestinian was shot and killed during confrontations that broke out on 30 August when PA security forces removed barriers at the northern entrance to Tulkarm refugee camp and searched vehicles exiting the camp.

Resistance activists had set up the barriers to prevent Israeli troops from raiding the camp.

During an interview with Al Jazeera following Tuesday’s raid, Hamas official Mushir al-Masri warned that “the Israeli enemy must realize that the security of Tel Aviv is linked to the security of Jenin.”

Israel has repeatedly raided the northern West Bank, often causing multiple Palestinian fatalities, ever since early 2022, when there were several attacks in Israel, including a shooting in Tel Aviv’s bustling Dizengoff Street in April that year.

A few of those attacks were waged by Palestinians from the northern West Bank, which has borne the brunt of Israel’s violence in the territory.

Israel’s reprisal raids in major population centers, sometimes during the day when the streets are full of people, have galvanized further rage and resistance against the occupation.

Gaza protester killed

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, the Israeli military shot and killed Yusif Salem Radwan, 25, during protests along the boundary fence in eastern Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip.

Video published by Palestinian outlets appears to show the moment that Radwan was shot:

Palestinian outlets published photos of Radwan following his death:

Palestinians have recently resumed regular protests along Gaza’s eastern boundary with Israel.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said on Tuesday that demonstrators were protesting against worsening conditions for political prisoners held by Israel and increased provocations by ultranationalist Jews at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The Israeli military reportedly believes that the protests along the Gaza boundary are intended by Hamas to pressure Israel into persuading Qatar to increase the funds it gives to pay for fuel and the salaries of civil servants in the territory.

The Israeli military has used live fire against the unarmed demonstrators and carried out a drone strike against what it said was a Hamas observation post in Gaza in response to the protests.

Last week, at least five Palestinians were killed in a blast apparently caused by an explosive device that detonated accidentally during a protest along Gaza’s eastern boundary.

Palestinians have been detonating large explosive devices along the boundary with Israel over the past week.

Massive demonstrations along Gaza’s eastern and northern boundary with Israel, dubbed the Great March of Return, were held on a regular basis for nearly two years beginning in early 2018.

The protests were aimed at ending the Israeli siege on Gaza and allowing Palestinian refugees to exercise their right of return as enshrined in international law. Some two-thirds of Gaza’s population of more than two million people are refugees from lands just beyond the boundary fence.

More than 215 Palestinian civilians, including more than 40 children, were killed during those demonstrations, and thousands more wounded by live fire between March 2018 and December 2019.

Israel closed the crossings it controls along Gaza’s boundary, along with those in the West Bank, after midnight on Thursday for the Jewish High Holidays.

Israel imposes a general closure on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza during major Jewish and national holidays.

The Israeli military unit COGAT said on Tuesday that the closure of Gaza’s northern checkpoint, initially set to expire after midnight on Sunday, would remain indefinitely, affecting some 17,000 Palestinians in Gaza who have permits to work in Israel.

Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, said that blocking travel “in response to demonstrations by Gaza’s perimeter fence constitutes illegal collective punishment.”

Two weeks ago, Israel blocked the exit of goods via another crossing for three days after the alleged discovery of explosive material hidden in a shipment leaving the territory.

Israeli troops, police and armed civilians have killed at least 230 Palestinians since the beginning of the year, according to The Electronic Intifada’s tracking. That figure includes people who died from injuries sustained in previous years.

Thirty-five people including Israelis and foreign nationals were killed by Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank during the same period, or died from previous injuries.

Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada