Israel kills five in Jericho raid

Hamas supporters in Gaza City rally in favor of resistance against the occupation following a deadly raid in Jericho, 6 February.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Israeli occupation forces killed five Palestinians during a raid in Aqabat Jabr refugee camp outside of the West Bank city of Jericho on Monday.

The raid comes less than two weeks after Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians during a similar operation targeting armed resistance activists in Jenin refugee camp. A tenth Palestinian died from his injuries days later.

The Jericho area of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley has been under siege for more than a week following an attempted shooting attack at a restaurant near Jericho frequented by settlers in late January.

According to Israeli media, two armed Palestinians fled towards Jericho after one of them opened fire in the restaurant. The gun jammed after a single shot was fired.

Israeli forces stormed Aqabat Jabr camp on Saturday and fired an anti-tank guided missile at a building and used live fire and tear gas, injuring at least 13 Palestinians, during the five-hour raid in pursuit of the two men.

Israeli media, citing the military, said that occupation forces had “failed to apprehend the pair” during Saturday’s raid.

The military claimed that the two involved in the attempted attack on the restaurant were among five killed in a firefight during Monday’s early morning raid.

The slain Palestinians were identified as Raafat Uweidat, 21, Ibrahim Wael Uweidat, 27, Malik Awni Lafi, 22, Adham Majdi Uweidat, 22, and Thaer Uweidat, 28.

Israel is withholding their bodies so that they may be used as bargaining chips in future negotiations – a violation of international law approved by the state’s highest court.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that six people were injured, one of them seriously, during the raid. Occupation forces impeded the work of medics and attacked an ambulance, according to the group.

Israeli forces arrested eight people during Monday’s raid.

Children “traumatized” in Jenin raid

Additional details have emerged regarding the Israeli military’s occupation of a Palestinian family’s home during its 26 January raid in Jenin refugee camp.

Muhammad Abu al-Hayja told CNN that he and his wife and their two daughters, both under the age of 3, were sleeping when Israeli soldiers rammed down their door.

Abu al-Hayja was handcuffed and taken to his bathroom and ordered to kneel down with a towel wrapped around his head as a blindfold.

The family lay on the floor for more than three hours as Israeli soldiers used multiple rooms in their home to fire at Palestinian fighters nearby, who in turn shot into the apartment.

Adam Bouloukos, the West Bank director of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, told CNN that Abu al-Hayja’s daughters “were noticeably traumatized.”

He said “this kind of invasion violates not only international law but common decency.”

Israeli police, soldiers and settlers have killed more than 40 Palestinians in the West Bank since the beginning of the year, including seven children.

A Palestinian gunman killed seven people in a Jerusalem settlement on 27 January before being shot dead by police.

On Friday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Abdullah Qalalweh, 26, at Huwwara checkpoint near the northern West Bank – a frequent flashpoint of deadly occupation violence.

The Israeli military claimed that Qalalweh, who was unarmed, had “attempted to take over the gun of an Israeli soldier before he was shot,” Middle East Eye reported.

Israeli authorities made a similar claim in the shooting death of Ahmad Kahlah at a checkpoint last month, only to later admit in a report leaked to the media that his killing was unjustified.

Refugees killed in earthquake

Meanwhile, nearly two dozen Palestinians in Syria were killed in a massive earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands in the region, according to the Palestinian state news agency WAFA.

Nearly 4,000 people were reported killed as a result of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria and was felt in countries beyond. A second and nearly equally strong aftershock struck several hours later.

A UN official warned that the death toll could increase eight-fold while the world body said that the scale of the destruction was hampering the provision of humanitarian aid.

In Turkey, rescue efforts were impeded by blizzard conditions in some areas, while thousands of survivors were staying out in the cold with little or no food, warmth or shelter or living in their cars for fear that damaged buildings could collapse due to aftershocks.

Nearly three million people in northwestern Syria, near the epicenter of the earthquake in southeastern Turkey, were displaced during the war in Syria and already depend on aid for survival.

A doctor in the area told the BBC that hospitals were overwhelmed and medical personnel were having to decide who they would treat and who they would have to let die due to the severe lack of staff and supplies.

A Palestinian family of five, including three children, were reported to have been killed by the earthquake in Turkey.

UNRWA schools in Syria were serving as shelters for Palestinian refugees from Latakia camp, where three homes collapsed.

The agency said that four Palestinian refugee children were killed in the disaster. Two of the children were trapped under a house in Latakia along with their parents, who died with them.

UNRWA added that coastal Latakia and Nairab, near Aleppo, were the most affected among the agency’s 12 camps in the country.

Around 440,000 Palestinian refugees live in Syria and UNRWA camps were badly affected during the decade-long war in the country.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said last month that rehabilitating the agency’s facilities in Syria was a top priority.

“I was shocked by the level of destruction of houses and UNRWA premises in some Palestine refugee camps in Syria,” Lazzarini said after visiting the country in January.

“The near-total destruction of places such as Yarmouk and Ein el Tal caused unimaginable suffering,” he added.

The chronically underfunded agency launched a $1.6 billion appeal in January for health, education and other basic services for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Monday’s disastrous earthquake in Syria will only exacerbate the dire needs of Palestinians in the country, one of the most vulnerable communities in the region.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.