The Electronic Intifada / April 24, 2023
Five people were injured in what Israeli police said was a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon.
This came after Israeli forces killed a Palestinian youth during a dawn raid on Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near the occupied West Bank city of Jericho/Ariha.
Suleiman Ayesh Hussein Aweid, 20, was killed with live bullets and three other people were injured in the raid, according to the Palestinian Authority governor of Jericho.
One of those injured was reportedly detained by the invading soldiers, and Aweid’s body was taken away by them as well.
Another person was run over by an Israeli military vehicle during the raid and taken to hospital, where he was reported to be in moderate condition.
Local media reported confrontations between residents and Israeli forces as soldiers searched homes in the refugee camp.
The Israeli army released a vague statement about the incident, but notably did not claim that its soldiers faced any hostile fire.
The army said its forces detained a “wanted person” during the raid on Aqabat Jabr.
In the course of the raid, the army claimed, “two suspects were identified who tried to escape from the scene and in response the soldiers shot at them and injuries were identified.”
Aqabat Jabr has been a frequent target of Israeli raids since the start of the year, including an assault in February that killed five people.
Injuries in Jerusalem
Hours later, a car Israeli authorities say was driven by a Palestinian slammed into pedestrians at an intersection in West Jerusalem injuring five people, one of them – a man in his 60s – seriously.
Graphic videos of the incident show an Israeli in civilian clothes firing at close range into the vehicle from the driver’s side as an injured person lays on the hood of the car, which was in the middle of a crosswalk.
Israeli police were quick to declare the driver a “terrorist,” saying the driver, a resident of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa, had been fatally shot by an armed civilian who was at the scene.
But according to Israeli media, the driver, 39-year-old father of five Hatem Asad Abu Najma, “had no known prior security offenses, but was known to have mental health issues.”
Photos of Abu Najma circulated on social media.
Following the incident, Israeli forces raided Beit Safafa and arrested relatives of Abu Najma, including his wife.
Monday’s violence coincided with what Israel calls Memorial Day, its annual commemoration of soldiers who died while participating in Israel’s ethnic cleansing, occupation and other forms of oppression against Palestinians, and in Israel’s wars against its neighbors.
The alleged car-ramming reportedly occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was taking part in an official observance of the event a few miles away.
“These attacks come with the aspiration that they can and will displace us from here, and if they could, they would kill us all,” Netanyahu claimed after learning of the incident.
“We established a glorious country with a glorious army and a glorious police force, at a heartbreaking price,” he added.
Palestinian resistance factions meanwhile called the alleged attack a natural response to Israel’s relentless assaults against the Palestinian people.
Since the start of the year, Israel has sharply escalated its violence against Palestinian communities, prompting UN peace process envoy Tor Wennesland to observe last month that “Israeli security forces operations in the occupied West Bank and subsequent clashes have led to a staggering number of Palestinians killed and injured.”
Since 1 January, Israeli occupation forces and civilians have killed some 100 Palestinians, including 18 children.
More than 2,600 Palestinians have been injured, including more than 300 with live ammunition.
Up until mid-March, Israeli forces had carried out more than 1,000 search-and-arrest raids in the occupied West Bank – an average of about 10 per day – detaining almost 2,000 Palestinians, according to the UN.
Over the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday that just marked the end of Ramadan, occupation forces detained 65 Palestinians including 6 children.
Twenty Israelis have been killed in occupation-related violence in Israel and the West Bank since the start of 2023.
An Italian tourist died earlier this month in what Israel also claims was a car ramming in the coastal city of Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv.
The driver of that car, Yusif Abu Jaber, was summarily executed at the scene. Police said that after his car overturned, Abu Jaber appeared to be reaching toward a “rifle-like object” which they later claimed was a toy gun.
The family of Abu Jaber, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, are demanding a proper investigation into the incident, disputing that the incident had been intentional.
They want Israel to release the body cam footage recorded by the officers who killed the married father of six girls. They also note that Israel has not released photos of the toy gun that Abu Jaber is alleged to have had.
Ali Abunimah is executive director of The Electronic Intifada