Israeli army kills 5 Palestinians in raid of Aqbat Jabr refugee camp

Mariam Barghouti

Mondoweiss  /  February 6, 2023

After a ten-day siege imposed on Jericho and its surrounding area, the Israeli army launched an assault on Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, killing 5 Palestinians.

On Monday morning, February 6, Israeli forces conducted a deadly raid on the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, located southwest of Jericho in the Jordan Valley. Aqabat Jabr is the largest refugee camp in the West Bank.

The raid comes more than a week after a Palestinian allegedly opened fire at a restaurant near the illegal settlement of Almog on January 28. No one was injured in the shooting, and the shooter fled the scene. Israeli forces subsequently launched a week-long manhunt that has entailed the closure of the Jericho area, and which has culminated with this morning’s raid.

Palestinians are describing the raid as an “assassination mission” targeting wanted resistance fighters in the area. 

The Israeli military initially reported at least four Palestinians confirmed to have been killed and one seriously wounded, although Palestinian and Israeli media outlets are reporting the death toll to be higher, with some indicating the killing of seven people. 

The five Palestinians killed were identified by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) as Ra’fat Wael Oweidat, 21, Ibrahim Wael Oweidat, 27, Malek Ouni Lafi, 22, Adham Majdi Oweidat, 22, and Thaer Oweidat, 28.

Additionally, Israeli media reported that the army detained the bodies of all the Palestinians who were killed. 

The MOH has yet to officially confirm the total number of casualties, having released a statement before noon local time that there was “no official information on the health status of the citizens who were detained by the occupation during its attack on the city.”

At least three Palestinians were injured with live ammunition during the raid, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Another eight Palestinians were arrested from the camp.

Raid on Aqbat Jabr

Monday morning’s raid comes more than a week after an alleged shooting at a restaurant near Almog. According to Israeli military sources and the Hamas-affiliated Aqsa news station, the fighters who carried out the shooting were affiliated with the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

Just two days before Monday’s deadly raid, the army conducted a similar operation on the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp on Saturday under the pretext of searching for those responsible for the shooting, but the Israeli army announced that it had been unable to apprehend the resistance fighters responsible.

Today’s raid of the camp occurred at dawn, as Israeli forces surrounded a home according to residents from the camp. The invasion lasted at least four hours according to Israeli military reports, which were corroborated by local Palestinian news sources and camp residents.

According to Israeli army correspondent Itay Blumenthal, the army targeted and killed the two armed resistance fighters allegedly responsible for the shooting at the Almog settlement junction, while killing three others during confrontations.

Journalists and medical personnel were denied access to the camp, according to journalists and medical staff on the ground.

“This is a systematic policy of the Israeli war machine to prevent the exposure of the daily crimes that are committed against Palestinians,” an eyewitness told Al-Quds News Network hours after the raid.

“This aims to break the Palestinian people,” he said. “We are targeted in our homes, in our farms, and nothing is done. There are organized war crimes happening to displace us from our homes.” He continued to ask: “until when will international communities remain silent and be unable to stop these crimes?”

A ten-day siege

Following the raid on the camp on Saturday, February 4, which saw both armed and unarmed confrontations from residents of the camp, the Israeli military released a statement noting its failure to capture those responsible for the shooting operation.

Since February 4, all the entry and exit points around Jericho were placed under a military-imposed siege, while the army erected several flying checkpoints in the surrounding area, searching cars and detaining Palestinians traveling to and from Jericho. 

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society, more than 23 Palestinians were arrested from Aqbat Jabr within the span of ten days, including at least two children. Another 13 Palestinians were arrested in military raids across the West Bank, namely the Nablus and Ramallah districts.

Last week, the Israeli military also called for boosting its presence across the West Bank by deploying new military battalions in various areas.

Palestinians go on general strike

Following the killings in the refugee camp, Palestinians in Jericho responded with burning tires and protesting Israeli forces around entry points to the city.

Various Palestinian political groups called for further confrontations in response to Israeli assaults and attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In Jericho, Ramallah, Salfit, Hebron, and Nablus, Palestinians declared a general strike, closing commercial stores for the day. Groups in the city also called for other towns and cities to observe the strike. 

Student councils in Birzeit, Jerusalem, and Hebron called for a public “day of rage,” and for confrontations with the Israeli army at military checkpoints.

Palestinian armed resistance has continued to spread across the West Bank and Jerusalem. While armed resistance was initially concentrated in Jenin refugee camp and Nablus, it has spread to include small armed groups in areas such as Ramallah, Tubas, Salfit, Tulkarem, Hebron, and Jericho. 

On January 26, Israeli forces invaded the Jenin refugee camp and killed ten Palestinians in what became known as the Black Thursday massacre. Since then, several shooting operations have been reported at various points across the occupied territory. 

Since the beginning of the year, Israeli forces and armed settlers have killed 41 Palestinians. In the first five weeks of 2023, more Palestinians were killed than in the first four months of last year combined, signaling a likely escalation of violence in the region.

Mariam Barghouti is the Senior Palestine Correspondent for Mondoweiss