Middle East Eye / April 11, 2022
Recent deaths come after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett granted security forces ‘full freedom of action’ last week.
Mohammad Zakarna, 17, was pronounced dead on Monday morning by the Palestinian health ministry after succumbing to wounds he sustained on Sunday during an Israeli army raid in Jenin.
Just before midnight, Mohammad Ali Ghoneim, 21, was killed by Israeli forces in another raid in Al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem. An Israeli military spokesperson alleged Ghoneim was hurling a Molotov cocktail towards an Israeli vehicle.
Earlier in the day, Ghada Ibrahim al-Aridi, a 47-year-old widowed Palestinian mother of six, was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Husan village, west of Bethlehem.
Footage documenting the moment she was shot showed her posing no threat to the soldiers. No weapon was found on her.
Another Palestinian woman, Maha al-Zaatari, 24, was fatally shot near the Ibrahimi Mosque Hebron on Sunday afternoon. Zaatari allegedly tried to stab an Israeli soldier before she was shot.
At least 35 Palestinians have been killed so far this year by Israeli forces in the West Bank.
The recent deaths come after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett granted the security forces “full freedom of action” on Friday, following a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv last week in which a Palestinian from Jenin killed three Israelis.
In the last three weeks, a total of 14 Israelis were killed in four separate shooting and stabbing attacks. All five assailants, Palestinians from the West Bank and Israel, were subsequently killed.
“We are granting full freedom of action to the army, the Shin Bet and all security forces to defeat the terror,” Bennett said in a public address in Tel Aviv. “There are not and will not be limits for this war.”
Jenin camp on alert
More than 26 Palestinians were detained in several Israeli raids on Monday morning across the West Bank as part of the ongoing Israeli crackdown. The majority of arrests happened in Nablus, which has witnessed growing confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Two settlers were shot and wounded while trying to reach Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, a flashpoint between Palestinians and Israelis, the Israeli army said on Monday. The shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews, was reportedly vandalized by residents a day earlier.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinians staged demonstrations in solidarity with Jenin, where most of the Israeli army operations have been concentrated.
Since Saturday, Israeli forces have raided the northern West Bank city multiple times leading to gunfights with Palestinian resistance fighters who mostly live in its fortified refugee camp.
Large troops raided the camp on Saturday morning in an attempt to arrest Fathi Hazem, the father of Ra’ad Hazem who carried out the Tel Aviv shooting on Thursday.
They also mapped out his home for demolition as part of a policy condemned by rights groups as a form of collective punishment against relatives of those who carry out attacks against Israeli targets.
In another raid on Sunday, troops targeted Ra’ad’s brothers while he was driving with his mother east of Jenin. Both Ra’ad’s father and his brother managed to escape and refused to hand themselves over.
Jenin camp is now living in anticipation of more Israeli attacks.
As a result, an informal band of fighters from different Palestinian factions, who call themselves the “Jenin Unit”, said on Sunday that they have gone on high alert.
Civilians have been told through loudspeakers of the camp’s mosques to avoid the streets and remain vigilant ahead of potential raids.
Meanwhile, Bennett said after a security cabinet on Sunday that Israel “has gone on the offensive” in light of recent violence.
The security cabinet also approved a $112m plan to build an additional 40 kilometres of the separation wall along the informal border with the West Bank.