Middle East Eye / May 22, 2023
Soldiers conduct dawn operation in Balata refugee camp, leading to armed confrontations with residents.
The Israeli army conducted a large-scale operation in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank at dawn Monday, killing three Palestinians and wounding six others.
A large number of Israeli troops, accompanied by bulldozers, raided the Balata refugee camp near the city of Nablus with heavy gunfire, leading to armed confrontations with Palestinians.
The Palestinian health ministry identified the three men killed as Mohammed Zaytoun (32), Fathi Rizk (30), and Abdullah Abu Hamdan (24). One of the wounded is in critical condition, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Witnesses said gunfire and loud explosions rocked the camp, while Israeli forces deployed snipers on rooftops, and prevented ambulances and medical personnel from entering the camp to evacuate the wounded, according to WAFA news agency.
The Israelis also stormed dozens of houses in the camp, vandalizing them as they searched their contents.
Local reports said Israeli forces demolished the home of the Abu Shalal family, without notifying neighbouring families, resulting in material damage to surrounding houses and the wounding of two people, including a girl.
“What happened tonight in the Balata refugee camp is a true massacre and a continuation of the total war Israel has declared on the Palestinians,” Palestinian presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.
The Israeli military said that it arrested 13 wanted people across the West Bank, including three in the Balata camp.
At least 117 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank so far this year, with another 34 killed in Gaza. A total of 18 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians over the same period.
Three Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in raid on Nablus
Al-Jazeera / May 22, 2023
The three were killed in the early hours of Monday amid a blockade of the Balata refugee camp in occupied West Bank.
The Israeli army has killed three Palestinian men during a large-scale raid on the Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian health ministry identified the three, killed on Monday morning, as Muhammad Abu Zaytoun (32), Fathi Abu Rizk (30), and Abdullah Abu Hamdan (24).
At least seven other Palestinians were injured, including four with live ammunition, and dozens of others suffered tear gas inhalation, according to the ministry.
Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and special forces participated in the raid that began at about 1am (22:00 GMT on Sunday) and continued until 5am (02:00 GMT).
Israeli forces blockaded the camp’s entrances with bulldozers and demolished some homes. They also damaged some units, according to residents, who also alleged the use of anti-tank grenades.
Reporting from the Balata refugee camp, Al-Jazeera’s Givara Budeiri said at least seven homes inside the camp were demolished or damaged.
“The families here are remembering the 2002 invasion of Nablus. They felt the bullets had penetrated everything tonight,” said Budeiri, adding that ambulance crews were also targeted as they attempted to reach the wounded.
The Israeli army said in a statement it arrested three Palestinian men “suspected of involvement” in armed activity and confiscated weapons, but did not comment on the killings. It also said it found an “explosives laboratory” in one of the apartments in the camp.
Monday’s raid took place after a car-ramming attack near Nablus on Sunday in which an Israeli soldier was injured.
The Balata refugee camp is the largest in terms of population in the occupied West Bank, where some 30,000 Palestinians live in a high population density area of about 60 acres (24 hectares).
Israeli forces also raided the Jenin refugee camp north of Nablus on Monday and arrested at least three Palestinian men.
Israel has been conducting near-daily raids and killings of Palestinians in the West Bank since June 2021 in an attempt to crack down on a phenomenon of growing armed resistance.
In 2022, Israeli forces killed more than 170 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in what was described as the deadliest year for Palestinians living in those areas since 2006.
Since the start of 2023, Israeli forces have killed at least 156 Palestinians, including 26 children. The death toll includes 36 Palestinians killed by the Israeli army during a four-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip between May 9 and 13.
SOURCE: AL-JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES