Palestinian teen killed in Israeli raid in northern occupied West Bank

Al-Jazeera  /  August 22, 2023

About 50 Palestinians are arrested by Israeli forces, including two suspects allegedly involved in shooting attack on Monday.

Israeli forces have shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during a raid in a town in the northern occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials say.

Othman Abu Khoruj, 17, was fatally shot in the head during a raid on the town of Zababdeh, south of Jenin, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Israeli forces had entered Zababdeh to make an arrest.

Yousef Sharqawi, a Palestinian who works at a local supermarket, told Al-Jazeera that 12 Israeli military vehicles had entered the town, looking for his younger cousin Yazan Sharqawi.

“They surrounded two of our family homes, then proceeded to enter, searching for Yazan,” Sharqawi said. “His father told them he was not in the house, so they made him call Yazan on the phone.”

The younger Sharqawi, 24, was working at a bakery and was promptly arrested as soon as he arrived home.

In confrontations that ensued as young Palestinians tried to repel the Israeli soldiers, Othman Abu Khuroj was shot twice, once in the head and once in the shoulder, witnesses said.

Abu Khuroj’s father, Atef, was working in the fields when he heard his son was injured.

“I arrived at the hospital, and they told me he was gone,” the 57-year-old said. “My son worked at the bakery from 8pm until 7am, and the last time I saw him was the day before. He was joking and stole a cigarette from me. He was my youngest boy.”

Othman, who like many Palestinian youth had to drop out of school to help his family financially, had been jailed by Israel for a month earlier this year.

“Ask the town about him. He was loved by everyone,” his father said.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, Al-Quds Brigade, issued a statement claiming Othman Abu Khuroj as one of its fighters.

“We affirm that the blood of the martyrs will remain the fuel for our continued resistance and that these sacrifices that our heroic fighters make will not be lost,” the statement said.

For its part, the Israeli army said its soldiers had opened fire after “explosive devices” were thrown at them.

“A hit was identified,” it said in a statement.

Israeli troops routinely carry out raids into areas such as Jenin that are nominally under the civil and security control of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

Arrests and interrogation

In the southern West Bank, the Israeli army captured two Palestinians who were suspected of carrying out a shooting attack on a car the day before near Hebron that killed a Jewish settler and seriously wounded another.

A statement by the Israeli army said joint forces from the army, the Shin Bet security service and commandos of the Border Guard, known as Yamam, arrested the two suspects, who are related.

The two suspects confessed during interrogation to involvement in the attack, the Israeli military said. Israeli security forces said they also confiscated the rifle used to shoot at the car on Monday.

Palestinian media identified the two suspects arrested near Hebron as Saqer and Mohammed al-Shantir.

The attack came two days after an Israeli father and son were shot dead at a car wash in the West Bank town of Huwara.

Israel has yet to make any arrests in that case despite a search operation that has seen troops raid villages and search house to house.

Overnight into Tuesday, the Israeli military said its forces conducted further large-scale searches and arrest raids throughout the West Bank.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, at least 50 Palestinians were arrested, the majority of them former prisoners who had spent time in Israeli jails.

“This campaign of arrests is considered one of the largest since the beginning of the year,” it said in a statement, adding that the detentions were accompanied by “systematic abuse, severe beatings of detainees and their families, threats, and vandalism”.

The occupied West Bank has been rocked by violence since early last year with repeated deadly raids by the army and violence by settlers against Palestinian communities as well as a string of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli targets.

According to the United Nations, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed this year, the highest number of fatalities since 2005. Nearly 30 Israelis were killed in the same period.

Additional reporting by Ayman Nobani in Jenin, occupied West Bank