Israeli occupation forces killed four Palestinians, including a child, during a daytime raid in downtown Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank, on Thursday afternoon.
Videos recorded by eyewitnesses and security systems appear to show that undercover Israeli forces extrajudicially executed at least one of those killed during the raid.
Among those killed was Nidal Khazem, a 28-year-old field commander for the resistance faction Islamic Jihad.
The slain fighter is the cousin of Raed Khazem, who was killed in a shoot-out with police in Jaffa hours after killing two Israelis in Tel Aviv’s bustling Dizengoff Street during a string of deadly attacks in Israel around this time last year. A third Israeli later died from his injuries.
The day after Raed Khazem was killed, on 9 April 2022, Ahmad Naser al-Saadi, a field commander for Islamic Jihad, was killed by Israeli forces during a punitive home demolition raid targeting a house in Jenin belonging to Raed Khazem’s family.
And in September last year, Raed Khazem’s brother, Abdelrahman, was killed in Jenin in an apparent extrajudicial execution.
The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that Yousif Salih Shrayim, who was also killed during Thursday’s raid, was one of its commanders.
The other slain Palestinians were identified by the Palestinian Health ministry as Omar Awadin, 14, and Luay al-Zughayir, 37.
Defense for Children International-Palestine said that Omar Awadin was shot by undercover forces while riding his bike outside his parents’ shop:The rights group said in a preliminary report that two civilian cars entered downtown Jenin at around 3 pm “and without warning, at least five undercover Israeli special forces dressed in plain clothes exited the cars and began firing live ammunition towards two young Palestinians on a motorcycle.”
Defense for Children International-Palestine added that “Israeli special forces shot one in the head and the other in the back, and continued chasing and firing upon the one shot in the back, which is when Omar was struck with a bullet in his back.”
Omar Awadin is the 16th Palestinian child killed by Israeli police, soldiers and settlers in the West Bank so far this year, according to the rights group. During the same period, a child in Gaza died from injuries sustained in an Israeli strike last August.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry said that 12 people were injured by live fire during Thursday’s raid, four seriously.
Video from the raid appears to show armed Israeli forces in civilian clothing getting into a silver sedan as shots ring out and a prone man lies on the road next to a motorcycle:Another video recorded from inside someone’s home shows a different man lying on the ground near a motorcycle. The four-second clip appears to show Israeli forces running up to the prone man and shooting him directly in the head with a pistol.
The Tel Aviv daily Haaretz said that the video shows Israeli forces shooting Nidal Khazem in the head while he lay prone and unarmed to “confirm he is dead.”
Security camera footage recorded from inside a jewelry shop shows Israeli gunmen disguised as civilians deploying in the bustling commercial center as Palestinians going about their day flee in panic:Other video clips show Palestinians surrounding and throwing objects at the civilian vehicle in which the undercover forces were traveling before being dispersed by gunfire: This clip shows the vehicle being towed by the military as occupation forces withdrew from Jenin: Although the undercover forces carried out their deadly task, this chaotic departure from Jenin suggests that not everything went to plan.
Increasingly fatal raids
Once rare, daytime raids resulting in multiple Palestinian fatalities in areas under ostensible Palestinian Authority control are becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence, particularly in the northern West Bank.
More than 170 Palestinians died during raids, typically before dawn, in the West Bank last year, according to Al Jazeera.
Israel’s daytime raids are proving even deadlier as Palestinian bystanders are struck by Israeli forces’ indiscriminate fire.
A 3D analysis published by The Washington Post shows that Israeli troops fired into a group of civilians in Nablus last month, killing a 16-year-old boy and a 65-year-old retiree near a mosque and a health clinic.
A total of 11 Palestinians were killed during that 22 February raid that was apparently aimed at apprehending or killing members of the Lions Den, a recently formed armed group based in the northern West Bank city.
The Israeli raid in Nablus last month was the single deadliest military operation in the West Bank since the United Nations began recording data in 2005, according to an official with the world body.
Israeli leaders appear to be aware that the pretexts for their deadly raids are hollow and that attacks like the one in Nablus last month and in Jenin on Thursday only escalate violence and make Israelis less safe.
Following the raid on Nablus, Israeli authorities were reportedly bracing “for possible ripple effects from the operation such as revenge terrorist attacks in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the interior or rocket fire from the Gaza Strip,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
According to some close observers, the new far-right government in Tel Aviv may be deliberately seeking a violent escalation to provide a pretext to implement its aims to formally annex West Bank land and further consolidate its colonial, apartheid rule.
Israel may also be deliberately terrorizing the civilian populations of Jenin and Nablus in an effort to turn them against the resurgence of armed resistance in those cities – a strategy that Tel Aviv has tried in Gaza without success, but at great cost to the more than two million Palestinians living in the besieged territory.
In the end, Israel may only be succeeding in turning people against the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, as it has proven totally unable to protect them from increasingly lethal incursions into the hearts of Palestinian cities.
Khaled Elgindy, an analyst with the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank funded by the UAE and the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil company, points out that “according to a new poll, for the first time ever a majority of Palestinians now support the dissolution of the PA.”
The PA meanwhile has escalated its own crackdown as part of a recent US-brokered agreement pressuring Ramallah to work with Israel to “de-escalate” the situation in the West Bank “to prevent further violence.”
The group Lawyers for Justice noted on Tuesday an uptick in arbitrary arrests by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.
Some Palestinians were arrested due to their participation in the funeral for Abdulfattah Khrousheh, who was killed by Israeli forces in Jenin on 7 March in what may amount to an extrajudicial execution. Khrousheh is accused by Israel of shooting and killing two Israeli settlers in Huwwara, near Nablus, in late February.Palestinian Authority police assaulted Khrousheh’s funeral procession with tear gas canisters and used force to disperse mourners, causing the slain man’s corpse to fall, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported.
The scene was reminiscent of Israeli police’s assault on the Jerusalem funeral for Shireen Abu Akleh, the legendary Al Jazeera correspondent who was shot and killed by an Israeli army sniper during a raid in Jenin in May last year.
Israeli police, soldiers and armed civilians killed more than 200 Palestinians last year.
In the first two and a half months of 2023, nearly half that number have been killed, with a total of 86 Palestinian fatalities at the hands of Israeli forces.
Fifteen Israelis and foreign nationals were killed by Palestinians during the same period, or died from injuries sustained previously, all but one of those fatalities occurring in the West Bank.