Israel kills two in Nablus ambush

Maureen Clare Murphy

The Electronic Intifada  /  April 11, 2023

Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians during an ambush near Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Days earlier, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian boy while withdrawing during a raid and a Palestinian man was killed during confrontations with occupation forces in Azzoun, near the West Bank city of Qalqilya.

The latest killings bring to 99 the number of Palestinians slain by Israeli troops, police and armed civilians so far this year, or who succumbed to injuries sustained in previous years, according to The Electronic Intifada’s tracking.

Twenty Israelis and foreign nationals were killed in alleged and actual attacks by Palestinians during the same period or died from injuries sustained previously.

Among them are a British-Israeli national who died on Monday, three days after she and two of her daughters, aged 15 and 20, were shot while driving in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley. Both of the daughters died from their injuries that day.

On Tuesday, Israeli authorities claimed that troops ambushed a group of gunmen who were opening fire at a military vehicle near Elon Moreh settlement and the Palestinian village of Deir al-Hatab.

Two of the ambushed men were killed and Israel is reportedly holding their bodies.

A third Palestinian was reportedly wounded and evaded being apprehended by occupation forces. Some outlets reported that a fourth person also escaped.

Palestinian outlets, citing the health ministry, identified the slain men as Saud Abdullah al-Titi and Muhammad Abu Dharaa from Balata refugee camp, near Nablus.

Israeli forces stormed Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank, in another daytime raid on Tuesday. Troops deployed snipers on rooftops and detained five people, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

On Monday, Israeli forces shot and killed Muhammad Uweidat, 17, during a raid in Aqabat Jabr refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Jericho/Ariha.

While withdrawing from the camp, troops “fired live ammunition indiscriminately,” striking the teen in “his head, chest, abdomen and pelvis,” according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.

Security camera footage apparently shows the moment that Muhammad was shot.

Defense for Children International-Palestine said that Muhammad is the 17th Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank so far this year. An 18th child, a 10-year-old boy in Gaza, died from injuries sustained in Israel’s offensive on the territory in August last year.

Several Palestinians, including children, have been killed in recent months while raiding Israeli forces were withdrawing from a Palestinian community.

Walid Saad Daoud Nasser, 15, died from his injuries on 9 March after an Israeli soldier shot him in the stomach with an expanding bullet while withdrawing from Jenin during a 7 March raid in which six other Palestinians were killed.

An in February, 16-year-old Muhammad Haj Ahmad and 65-year-old Abdelaziz Ashqar were killed by withdrawing Israeli forces during a raid in Nablus on 22 February.

And Ayman Ahmad Muhaisen, 29, was shot in the chest by withdrawing forces while he was standing in front of his home during an arrest raid on Dheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem in June last year.

Also on Monday, thousands of Jewish settlers, including Israeli lawmakers and ministers, marched to Evyatar, an evacuated settlement outpost built on land belonging to Beita, a Palestinian village near Nablus.

Several Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military in Beita since the outpost was established in May 2021.

More than 20 Palestinian protesters were injured by Israeli forces during Monday’s march, which included the participation of Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalal Smotrich and other ministers and lawmakers in Israel’s far-right coalition government.

During a rally that followed the march, Ben-Gvir stated that “we’re returning home to the Land of Israel and to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem,” referring to the al-Aqsa mosque compound, where police have brutalized Palestinian worshippers during Ramadan.

Dov Lior, an extremist anti-Palestinian rabbi who is the spiritual leader of many far-right figures in Israel’s ruling coalition, also participated in the march to Evyatar.

Moshe Ya’alon, the former Israeli Defense minister, recently warned that Lior and his followers have advocated for blowing up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound in order to usher in a “last war” to achieve their aim of a Jewish theocratic state in Palestine.

Ya’alon pointed to the massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers at Hebron’s Al-Ibrahimi Mosque during Ramadan in 1994 as an example of how to ignite such a war.

That massacre was perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, a student of Lior. Israeli forces partitioned the holy site and shuttered the formerly bustling adjacent Old City following the massacre.

Lior’s extremism can be measured by the eulogy he gave the mass killer, stating that “Baruch Goldstein is a holier martyr than all the holy martyrs of the Holocaust.”

Palestinians fear that without determined resistance, Israel will seize any opportunity to impose similar measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Israeli police killed a young man at close range at the holy site during Ramadan this year, which overlaps with Passover and Easter.

Al Mezan, a human rights group based in Gaza, said on Tuesday that Israel canceled travel permits given to Christians in the besieged coastal enclave, preventing them from worshiping in Jerusalem during Orthodox Easter, which occurs on 16 April this year.

The rights group said that around 1,000 Palestinian Christians in Gaza submitted requests for permits, with nearly 750 getting approval, only for Israel to cancel them.

Al Mezan called on “the international community” to block the Netanyahu government’s attempts “to ignite a religious war in the region in order to preserve the ruling coalition.”

On Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that Jewish visitors would be prohibited from visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound until the end of Ramadan to prevent a further escalation of violence.

The Islamic trust that oversees the holy site said that dozens of Jews toured the al-Aqsa compound on Tuesday while some 1,500 visited under heavy police escort on Monday during the Passover holiday.

Hamas called on Palestinians to gather in large numbers at Al-Aqsa during the final 10 days of Ramadan to protect it from “Israeli aggression.”

Scenes of Israeli police brutality against worshippers at Al-Aqsa provoked rocket fire from Lebanon and Gaza and mortar fire from Syria into the Golan Heights, Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, reported that one of its schools in Damascus was damaged in reprisal Israeli missile strikes:

The Palestinian Authority warned against the increasing Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa and the “ongoing campaigns of incitement” by Israeli leaders seeking a change to the status quo at the mosque.

Meanwhile, Israeli outlets reported that government officials anticipate undertaking a “significant security action” in the coming weeks in order to maintain the coalition amid controversy and negative opinion polls.

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada