Middle East Eye / November 1, 2022
United Nations says monthly average of Palestinians killed is highest since global body started counting fatalities in 2005.
Israeli forces killed at least 29 Palestinians in the West Bank last month, making October the deadliest month there so far in what the United Nations’ humanitarian office said on Tuesday was on course to be the “deadliest year” since it started counting fatalities across the Palestinian territories in 2005.
According to MEE’s analysis, it is also the highest death toll in the West Bank in a single month since May last year during nationwide Palestinian protests against Israeli attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque, the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and the bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The last time before 2021 that the monthly toll exceeded 30 deaths was between October and December 2015 at the height of a wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinians.
At least five of those who died in October after being shot by Israeli security forces were boys. The youngest of them was 12-year-old Mahmoud Mohammad Samoudi from Jenin who died in hospital on 10 October from Israeli gunshot wounds he sustained on 28 September during an army raid.
More than half of those killed in October were most likely unarmed when they were shot dead, according to Palestinian officials and media reports.
Fifteen people were shot as bystanders, in protests, during army raids or army-protected attacks by Jewish settlers.
On 3 October, Israeli forces opened fire at three Palestinians while they were inside a vehicle returning from work, killing two and wounding the third.
Israeli forces said they attempted a car-ramming but the accusation was denied by eyewitnesses and the wounded survivor.
In a rare incident, a senior member of the Lions’ Den armed group died on 23 October in what appeared to be a targeted explosion in the Old City of Nablus.
Palestinians accused Israel of being behind the attack. The Israeli army did not comment on the explosion.
Two members of the Civil Defence, which is part of the Palestinian Security Services, were killed on 28 October after a shooting at a military post in unclear circumstances.
Five others were killed during armed clashes with Israeli troops during raids in the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus. Four were shot dead after carrying out shooting and car-ramming attacks at Israeli settlers and soldiers.
Meanwhile, Israeli casualties also witnessed a spike in October compared to recent months.
Palestinians killed three Israelis, two soldiers and one settler, in separate attacks across the West Bank that targeted military checkpoints and Jewish settlements.
‘Deadliest year’ since 2005
The October casualties topped a growing trend of violence since the start of the year.
This level of violence in the West Bank has not been recorded since the tail end of the Second Intifada.
In a report on Tuesday, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which provides humanitarian assistance in the occupied territories, said: “So far, 2022 is the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank, on a monthly average since the United Nations started counting fatalities systematically in 2005.”
According to Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), at least 28 Palestinian children have been shot and killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the West Bank since the start of year.
Ayed Abu Eqtaish, the group’s accountability program director, said in a statement last month that Palestinian children are not safe under the Israeli occupation.
“No one has been held accountable. By routinely resorting to intentional lethal force in situations not justified under international law, Israeli forces have created an environment where no Palestinian child is safe,” Abu Eqtaish said.
An additional 49 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip during a three-day Israeli bombardment in August, including 17 children, the youngest of which was four-year-old Jamil Nijm Jamil Nijm.
The violence this year comes as Israeli troops increase operations in the West Bank to stamp out a growing threat from emerging Palestinian armed groups, mainly the Lions’ Den in Nablus and the Jenin Battalion in Jenin.
The two groups based in the north of the West Bank have no direct affiliations with traditional Palestinian parties and their members are cross-factional.
They are made up of dozens of young fighters, mostly in their 20s, who say they operate against Israeli targets in response to the ongoing occupation.
Huthifa Fayyad is a freelance journalist