Mondoweiss / October 3, 2022
Israeli military forces invaded Jalazon refugee camp and killed two young Palestinians as Operation Break the Wave continues to wreak havoc on Palestinian lives.
On October 3, Israeli military forces invaded Jalazon refugee camp near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and killed two young Palestinians, Basel Basbous and Khaled Anbar, while seriously injuring a third, Rafat Salameh from Birzeit.
The two Palestinians killed by Israel were driving their car when Israeli forces opened fire on them, later claiming that the young men were conducting a ramming attack. Ramallah went on strike in mourning over the martyrs, as shops were closed down and public events were canceled in honor of the slain.
Not only were the men killed, but their bodies were also confiscated by the military. The bodies of over 110 Palestinians are being held illegally by Israel, as a punitive form of deterrence and collective punishment, in violation of their right to burial under international humanitarian law.
More Palestinians have been killed in 2022 than in the same time period in 2021, according to a report by the Swiss organization, Euro-Med, back in April. Most of these killings were extra-judicial and premeditated assassinations, which were concentrated in Jenin and Nablus, which have become important hubs for Palestinian armed resistance.
Assassinating some, imprisoning most, terrorizing all
The Israeli military has carried out this coordinated campaign of assassinations, imprisonment, and collective punishment for most of 2022 so far, involving various Israeli intelligence agencies, including the Shin Bet (internal security), Aman (military intelligence), and the Mossad (national intelligence).
The first Palestinian to be assassinated by Israeli forces in 2022 was Musa Hashash, 21, from Balata refugee camp in Nablus. Israeli military spokespersons have often attempted to frame the killing of Palestinians as a result of counter-terrorism activities, yet the second Palestinian to be deliberately killed was 75-year-old Sheikh Suleiman al-Hathalin on January 17 in Masafer Yatta, who was rammed by an Israeli truck that “dragged his body for several meters without stopping” during a military raid to seize unregistered vehicles.
Just last week, on September 29, 7-year-old Rayyan Suleiman’s heart stopped when Israeli forces chased him to his death after raiding his neighborhood and family home in Bethlehem to conduct a military arrest. In the month of August alone, more than 607 Palestinians have been arrested, most of whom were from the Jerusalem area.
The current escalation of Israeli violence — from settlers and the military — has been causing evident trauma in the younger Palestinian generation. Amid the Break the Wave military operation, an average of 134 Palestinian children and minors are held in military prisons at any given month, according to Defense for Children International – Palestine. Of those, an average of 24 children between 12 and 15 years of age are imprisoned any given month.
There are currently 4,650 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 180 of them children and minors. In February, Haaretz published an article showcasing the testimony of a top Israeli Shin Bet ex-official admitting that the Shin Bet has historically arrested people “for no reason.” Other newly unearthed testimonies show that the Shin Bet’s impunity in carrying out the extrajudicial assassinations of the Buss 300 affair in 1984 has led to its effective adoption of extra-judicial assassinations as a matter of policy.
Escalation amid a vulnerable population
The Israeli military has been launching extensive undercover and overt military operations in Palestinian cities and towns (namely Jenin and Nablus) to target resistance fighters. It also carries out this policy under the pretext of exercising “deterrence.”
But the terrorization of Palestinian communities that dare defy the Israeli settler-colonial regime has long preceded the most recent escalations.
Most of the areas under heavy Israeli military and armed settler assaults are located in places with high refugee populations, including both Jenin and Nablus which have been at the center of the recent Break the Wave campaign. Earlier this year, acting Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank, Dorothee Klaus, said that “residents of Jenin camp are under immense security and economic pressure,” emphasizing that the “local economy is depleted,” a point reinforced by a 2022 OCHA needs assessment which found the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza are refugees and those living outside refugee camps.
On Monday, the killing of Basbous and Anbar was justified by the pretext of planned attacks against Israeli soldiers, although Israel routinely makes such claims without presenting any evidence after it has committed the crime. In some instances, families of slain Palestinians have noted that Israel fabricates and even plants evidence to justify its extra-judicial killings, such as planting knives on slain Palestinians to establish intent of carrying out a knife attack.
Mariam Barghouti is the Senior Palestine Correspondent for Mondoweiss