Six Palestinians killed in Jenin during second Israeli invasion of the city this year

Mariam Barghouti 

Mondoweiss  /  March 7, 2023

The Israeli army launched yet another massive military invasion on bastions of Palestinian resistance, this time in two simultaneous raids on Nablus and Jenin.

Six Palestinians have been killed and more than a dozen injured after an Israeli military invasion of Jenin, the second large-scale offensive on the city and its refugee camp in the last two months. At the same time, the Israeli army also invaded Askar refugee camp in Nablus, injuring 12 Palestinians and arresting three others.

Initial reports from the Israeli military claim that the twin invasions were a coordinated attack aimed at rooting out the resistance cell that allegedly orchestrated the Huwwara operation on February 26, which left two Israeli settlers dead. 

The six men killed in Jenin were identified by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) as Mohammad Wael Ghazzawi, 26, Mohammad Ahmad Salim Khlouf, 22, and Tareq Ziyad Mustafa Natour, 27, Ziyad Amin Al-Zar’ini, 29, Abdelfattah Hussein Kharrousha, 49, and Mutasem Nasser Sabbagh, 22.

Since the start of the year, Israeli forces have killed 72 Palestinians, 25 of whom were from the Jenin district alone. 

The Jenin invasion

On Tuesday afternoon, at approximately 2:45 p.m., undercover Israeli special forces invaded Jenin, just outside of Jenin refugee camp, located east of the city. 

Footage from local residents allegedly shows the entry of undercover special forces in a white van carrying a West Bank license plate bearing Arabic graffiti that reads “the transportation of the future.”

Although Mondoweiss did not independently verify these claimsprevious extrajudicial assassination efforts have often included undercover forces entering locations in white vans.

The military operation was carried out at midday, coinciding with the after-school rush hour, when roads were full of civilians. 

Within moments, military reinforcements of more than two dozen armored vehicles, including military jeeps and bulldozers, raided the city from the illegal settlement of Dotan southwest of the camp and the Jalameh military checkpoint northwest of the camp.

A building was surrounded and besieged by the army under the pretext that armed Palestinian fighters were inside. 

Armed confrontations ensued between the army and Palestinians amid the incursion. Israeli forces fired live ammunition, teargas, and other weapons during the offensive, which persisted until the evening. 

“We are surrounded in the house, special forces are in the area and are bombing our house and our neighbors’ house, all the houses around,” a young man, Abu Azmi, is heard saying through an audio recording. “We are, God willing, holding on to our final breath. Pray for us,” the man pleaded as the 15-second recording ended. “We beg you to pray for us.”

Eyad Abu al-Azmi was at home when he received a phone call from the army informing him to leave the premises. According to a post on his personal Facebook account, Abu al-Azmi reported that the army began to fire explosive devices at the house. 

Within 45 minutes of the offensive, an Israeli Apache military helicopter landed near the area where confrontations continued.

After invading the camp, phone texts were sent to Palestinians in the area signed by Captain Ward — the current military Major responsible for the Jenin area. 

“The Israeli army and security forces will work to enforce justice and security,” the message said. “[It] will work with extreme firmness with whoever goes against the law and extends a hand to terror.”

Within the hour following the text, Israeli forces had already killed Mohammad Wael Ghazzawi, 26, with a bullet to the chest, while injuring five others, including one in critical condition, according to the MOH. Two Israeli officers from the special operations Yamam Unit were injured during the offensive and were transferred to Rambam hospital in Haifa, north of Jenin.

By 5:00 p.m., another two Palestinians were killed. The Palestinian MOH identified the men as Mohammad Ahmad Salim Khlouf, 22, and Tareq Ziyad Mustafa Natour, 27. Within half an hour, another three were killed, Ziyad Amin Al-Zareini, 29, Mutasem Nasser Sabbagh, 22, and Abdelfattah Hussein Kharrousha, 49.

According to the Israeli military’s media dispatch 0404, the offensive in Jenin targeted the “terrorist that killed Hillel Weigal Yaniv” in Huwwara near Nablus last month on February 26. 

The media have widely reported that Kharrousha is responsible for the Huwwara shooting, which happened four days after the Israeli army had invaded Nablus and killed 11 Palestinians

Immediately after the Huwwara shooting on February 26, Israeli settlers from nearby settlements rampaged throughout the town in an arson campaign that has been described as a pogrom, even by the Head of the Israeli army’s General Command.

Sons of Askar resistance fighter arrested

Kharrousha, although killed in Jenin, is from Askar refugee camp near Nablus. Kharrousha had reportedly sought refuge in Jenin refugee camp to escape potential extra-judicial execution.

During the invasion of Jenin, another twin military offensive was taking place in Askar refugee camp in Nablus, 40 km southeast of Jenin. At approximately 3:30 p.m. Israeli military forces raided Nablus and surrounded a building on Sahel Askar, located on the periphery of Askar refugee camp.

According to the MOH, 12 Palestinians were injured during the invasion, with one in critical condition with a bullet to the abdomen. By the end of the raid on Askar, the Israeli army reported that it had arrested three brothers, Khaled, Qassam, and Abed Kharrousha — the sons of the slain Abdelfattah Kharrousha. They were transferred for interrogation by the Israeli Shin Bet, under suspicion of having allegedly aided their father.

Mariam Barghouti is the Senior Palestine Correspondent for Mondoweis