Israel steps up West Bank violence, killings in new year

Palestinians attend the funeral of those killed in an Israeli army raid in Jenin. Seven Palestinians were killed early on Sunday during an Israeli airstrike in the West Bank city.

Ayman Nobani DPA via ZUMA Press / APA images

Israel ushered in the new year in the occupied West Bank with no let up in the bloodshed that saw out the previous one.

Military and intelligence officials have repeatedly warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the West Bank is on the brink of a “major escalation,” according to the Times of Israel.

But that does not seem to be slowing down the slaughter in the occupied West Bank.

Since the beginning of the year, Israeli occupation forces have killed at least 21 Palestinians, including three children. Nearly half of those killings occurred on a single day.

The youngest child killed was 4 years old.

In shocking footage on Tuesday, an Israeli armored vehicle ran over a Palestinian man lying on the ground after he was shot by Israeli troops during their invasion of Iktaba, a town northeast of Tulkarm.

One video initially shows Palestinian men dispersing as they try to flee. They are then gunned down in a hail of heavy fire.

Footage from the same incident, which was circulated by local and international media, shows an Israeli jeep running over the body of one of the Palestinian men lying on the ground, crushing him and dragging him under its wheels.

Israeli forces shot at a parked vehicle in the area before surrounding a house and killing three men there, according to Wafa news agency’s correspondent.

Israeli forces prevented ambulances from reaching the injured Palestinians, and medics were unable to reach the area until the Israelis withdrew.

West Bank refugee “just like Gaza”

The Israeli military conducted a nearly 40-hour raid on Nur Shams refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on 2 January.

Airstrikes by Israeli occupation forces destroyed roads, infrastructure and private and public property.

Video shows bulldozers tearing up the streets of the camp and causing extensive damage:

“The Nur Shams camp is just like Gaza,” a local healthcare worker told The Electronic Intifada.

“Destruction, houses exploded, destroyed, people get hit and beaten by soldiers, arrested.”

Although it is getting less attention – given the much larger scale of its genocide in Gaza – Israel appears to be acting with similar destructiveness and brutality in the West Bank.

Israeli forces interrogated about 500 Palestinians in the refugee camp during the raid, including women and children. Soldiers then transferred about 150 of those it interrogated to military camps and detained 20 of them.

Images and CCTV footage that came out of Nur Shams during Israel’s massive raid showed the detention of Palestinians.

This video shows Palestinian men blindfolded and made to walk in a row: 

Bodies “cut to pieces”

Palestinian resistance fighters set off an explosive device destroying an Israeli armored vehicle during an Israeli incursion into Jenin and its refugee camp on Sunday, killing one member of Israel’s paramilitary Border Police.

An armed group associated with Islamic Jihad, Jenin Brigade, carried out the attack, according to video shared by Saraya al-Quds, the military arm of the group.

The video shows a massive explosion sending the vehicle flying into the air. What appear to be at least two bodies are left lying on the ground.

The video includes snapshots of the slain Israeli soldier’s identification card. Other members of the occupation forces were reportedly injured.

Shortly afterwards, the Israeli army carried out a massive raid “not seen in the Jenin governorate for several years,” Palestinian human rights groups said. Israeli forces, including a helicopter, began firing heavily.

At dawn, as Israeli forces were withdrawing from the area, an Israeli drone-fired missile hit a group of Palestinians, killing seven including a child, near the Palestinian village of Muthalath al-Shuhada.

Four of them were brothers of the Darwish family, all between the age of 22 and 29 years old.

Two others were also brothers of the Asous family, including 17-year-old Wadie Yasser Asous.

“Wadie suffered shrapnel injuries and severe burns to his head, neck and chest,” Defense for Children International - Palestine said.

A seventh Palestinian was injured and later died from his wounds.

“The bodies of some of them were cut to pieces,” the human rights groups said.

“One of the martyrs was decapitated,” Mujahid Nazzal, a Palestinian doctor and first responder at the scene, told Reuters.

“It seemed the missile hit him directly. Others had their limbs severed.”

The same morning, about 40 Israeli armored vehicles invaded the village of Abwein, northwest of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli army searched homes and fired at young Palestinians when they confronted the invaders, fatally injuring 28-year-old Mahmoud Hussein Muharib.

Husband and wife, girl killed

Israeli forces also killed a husband and wife at a military checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem on the same day.

After approaching the checkpoint, the couple’s vehicle deviated towards the occupation soldiers, lightly wounding two of them. Israeli soldiers began firing at the car, even after it stopped, killing the couple, 37-year-old Muhammad Abu Eid and his wife Duha Abu Eid, 31.

The Israeli gunfire also hit an uninvolved taxi, killing 4-year-old Ruqaya Ahmad Odeh Jahalin, who was riding in it with her mother.

“An Israeli military ambulance transported Ruqaya and her mother to the checkpoint, where Ruqaya’s father met them,” DCIP said.

“Israeli forces interrogated Ruqaya’s father before allowing him to leave without releasing Ruqaya’s body,” the group added.

“Israeli forces opened fire with no regard for Ruqaya’s life,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP.

“This is just one example of the impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces emboldened in an environment where the international community refuses to hold them accountable.”

Abu Eqtaish said Israeli forces were “now empowered more than ever to increasingly target and kill Palestinian children across the occupied Palestinian territory with zero consequence.”

New Year’s killings

In the West Bank, Israel carried out its first killings of the year in the northern town of Azzoun on 2 January.

Israeli occupation forces stormed the western area of the village in a raid that lasted six hours, while armed Palestinians fought back against the Israeli attackers.

Israeli troops fired live ammunition, stun grenades and tear gas canisters at Palestinians, killing four youths aged from 18 to 26. Israel withheld their bodies.

Israel withholds the remains of Palestinians killed during what it claims were attacks, intending to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations.

Israeli occupation forces continued to invade Azzoun in the following days.

Since 7 October, Israeli occupation forces have blockaded the village with an iron gate and hindered movement in and out of it. Across the West Bank, occupation forces have set up dozens more checkpoints, restricted movement and cut cities and villages off from each other.

“Palestinians endure inhumane and degrading treatment at checkpoints,” Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq said, adding that it had documented a number of instances in which Israeli troops “mistreated and abused” Palestinians at checkpoints.

In some cases, soldiers checked Palestinians’ mobile phones and accused them of visiting websites “considered inciteful by the occupying authorities.”

In 2023, Israeli occupation forces and settlers killed at least 121 children in the West Bank. Overall, Israeli soldiers and settlers killed more than 500 Palestinians in the West Bank last year, more than 300 of them after 7 October.


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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.