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Thu, Jun

15-Year-Old Among Palestinians Killed in Israeli Raid on Jenin Refugee Camp

WORLD WATCH

ISRAELI ATTACK - The latest Israeli attack on a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin on Monday morning killed at least five Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy, and left another teenager with a critical wound after being shot in the head. 

At least 91 people were wounded and 10 were in critical condition after an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raid that was reportedly aimed at arresting two people, including activist Assem Abu al-Haija. The Middle East Eye (MEE) reported that the initial arrest operation involved violence against al-Haija's young family and was followed by the Israelis' deployment of stun grenades, Apache helicopters, and tear gas as the refugee camp came under attack. 

Banan Abu al-Haija, the sister of the arrested activist, told MEE that Israeli soldiers stormed al-Haija's house at 5:00 am and interrogated him for two and a half hours while detaining his wife and young children. The soldiers also broke furniture and tore down pictures of al-Haija's father, who was jailed by Israel two decades ago.

"Dozens of soldiers surrounded my brother's house and blew up the main door, then spread throughout the house. They crammed his pregnant wife and two children [aged six and four] into one room and took him to another room and began field investigations with him," Banan Abu al-Haija told MEE. "They confiscated all the house's keys. The soldiers were screaming all the time and cursing his wife and children, who were crying out of fear. Then they arrested Assem and transferred him to an unknown destination."

The IDF was met with local resistance after the arrest and "went crazy" after its forces came under fire, Jenin resident Sari Samour told MEE. Samour told the outlet that the Israelis began "randomly" shooting at houses, including that of a 15-year-old girl named Sadeel.

"Moments later, we heard a scream from their house, so we all went out to see what happened, only to find that the girl was shot in the head," Samour said. "She is still in serious condition and her life is in danger."

Four of the people who were killed have been identified by the Palestinian Ministry of Health as Ahmed Saqr, 15; Khaled Darwish, 21; Qassam Sariya, 19; and Qassam Faisal Abu Sirriya, 29.

At least one Palestinian journalist was injured by the Israeli soldiers' gunfire "as he took cover," Al Jazeera reported. Jenin was the site of the deadly shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last year.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that at least four ambulances were "directly targeted" by the IDF as emergency workers responded to injuries caused by gunfire, rocket launches, and other weapons.

"Israeli occupation forces attacked four PRCS ambulances as they conducted their duty in Jenin," Nibal Farsakh, the group's media and information officer, told Al Jazeera, adding that the vehicles were "directly targeted with live ammunition, causing material damage to the structure and the glass of the ambulances themselves."

At least one ambulance was "taken out of service due to the attack."

Mustafa Barghouti, general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, toldAl Jazeera that the raid was the latest battle in "a criminal war that the Israeli, very well-equipped army is conducting against Palestinian civilians in Jenin." 

"You are talking about an army that is using Apache helicopters, F-16 jet fighters, armored vehicles, unlimited amount of gunpowder against the civilian population, basically in Jenin camp and Jenin city itself," Barghouti told Al Jazeera. 

The raid marked the first time the IDF has used Apache helicopters against Palestinian targets since 2006.

"Military incursions into Jenin and other cities and refugee camps in the West Bank, have become a matter of routine, and, in Israel, the military's conduct goes unquestioned," said Israel-based human rights group B'Tselem

"But many of those injured in these incursions are necessarily passers-by or civilians at home" rather than people who could be considered enemy combatants, the group added, noting that children and elderly people have been killed in recent attacks. 

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Monday that the IDF should subject the entire occupied West Bank to "a broad operation" and last month said the number of illegal settlers in the region should be doubled. He previously called for the West Bank town of Huwara to be "wiped out" by "the state of Israel." 

Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 161 Palestinians so far in 2023, including 26 children. Twenty Israelis have been killed in fighting between Israel and occupied Palestine this year. 

As dozens attended a protest against the raid late Monday, the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq warned that the "alarming increase in Israeli attacks is a result of international community's deliberate failure to hold Israel accountable."

The United States authorized nearly $4 billion in military aid for Israel earlier this year and has provided the IDF with a total of $158 billion to date.

(Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams where this story was first published.)

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