Middle East Eye / January 3, 2023
Three Palestinians have already been shot dead by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.
A 15-year old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank on Tuesday morning.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Adam Essam Ayyad was shot in the chest with a live bullet in Dheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem.
He is the third Palestinian to have been killed by Israeli forces in just the first three days of 2023.
Akram Shafout, 47, an activist from the camp, told Middle East Eye the night raid on Dheisheh camp started around four in the morning, sparking confrontations with local youths.
Shafout said that the raid began with special forces in civilian cars entering the camp, followed soon by “hundreds” of armed soldiers and a convoy of military vehicles.
Palestinian media said the army arrested one resident of the camp after raiding their home. During the raid, groups of local youth – reportedly including Ayyad – confronted the soldiers with rocks.
Israeli media reported Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails and said one soldier was “lightly injured”. Meanwhile, Israeli forces opened fire at several Palestinians, with the army reporting that “suspects were hit”.
“As the soldiers were pulling out of the camp they started to use live ammunition, and that is when Adam was killed,” said Shafout.
“It was not the ‘violent riot’ that they [the Israeli army] described. These boys are throwing rocks at fully armoured vehicles. The soldiers’ lives are not in danger.”
Dheisheh refugee camp is subject to almost weekly raids conducted by Israeli forces. Just last month, Omar Manah, 23, a baker from Dheisheh, was killed during these raids. The same night, several other Palestinians were shot and taken to the hospital.
Shafout told MEE that Ayyad was from a low-income family and used to work with Manah at the local bakery in the camp.
Ayyad was deeply affected by his friend’s death at the hands of the Israeli forces, so when he heard the soldiers raiding the camp, he went outside to confront them.
After he was killed, a letter reportedly written by Ayyad before his death was widely circulated on social media, as his family had placed it on his body before his funeral.
In the letter he said he wanted to follow the path of “martyrdom” and for people to wake up to what is happening in Palestine.
“Our children are being killed, and they are asking for their humanity, but no one is listening,” said Shafout.
A ‘dangerous shift’
The year 2022 has been declared the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the Second Intifada. Across the occupied territories, at least 220 Palestinians were killed, including 48 children.
On 2 January, Mohammed Samar Khoshiyeh, 22, and Fouad Mohammed Abed, 25, were killed by Israeli forces after being shot by live bullets in a raid on the town of Kafr Dan, Jenin.
Although human rights groups have condemned Israel’s “shoot-to-kill” policy for years, local Palestinians have little hope of things changing during 2023, with Israel’s most right-wing government in history taking over.
Far-right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir is now in charge of Israel’s national security and has been vocal in his support for the extrajudicial killing of Palestinians. He symbolizes a “dangerous’ shift” in what is to come for Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation in 2023.
“This extremist Israeli government is nothing new for us. Every government is more extreme than the last,” said Shafout.
“We will continue to resist for as long as our young people are living in these refugee camps and are prevented from their right of return.”
Leila Warah is a Palestinian freelance journalist based in the Bethlehem