Deadly Israeli raids leave Palestinians in West Bank camp reeling

More than 300 Palestinians killed in Jenin camp by Israeli forces and settlers in West Bank since the war erupted

By AFP

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The charred remains of a car are seen outside a mosque at the Jenin refugee camp in occupied West Bank. — AFP
The charred remains of a car are seen outside a mosque at the Jenin refugee camp in occupied West Bank. — AFP

Published: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 8:10 PM

Palestinian Mawaheb Marei is mourning a double tragedy — her relatives suffering and dying in Gaza, and the killing of her teenage son, a victim of Israel's frequent raids in the occupied West Bank.

"I wish I could wrap him in a coat", Marei told AFP, like she had done every winter to keep her son, Eid, warm.

The 15-year-old was killed on October 25 in an Israeli raid on Jenin refugee camp where the family live in the northern West Bank, said the mother.

"Now, it doesn't matter if I live or die in the raids." Marei said she had also lost six relatives in the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

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The Israeli army carries out regular raids on the Jenin camp and adjacent city, often triggering gun battles between troops and Palestinian militants.

The army says it is targeting "terrorists" in its raids, but the Palestinian health ministry says many civilians are among the dead.

When Marei heard that her son had been hit, she frantically searched local hospitals, and eventually found him intubated and dying from shrapnel wounds.

"So many innocent children have been killed," she said.

The camp, a stronghold of Palestinian armed groups, was originally built to house Palestinians displaced during the Arab-Israeli war that coincided with Israel's creation in 1948. It is now home to more than 23,000 people.

AFP correspondents in Jenin saw houses in the camp sprayed with bullets, and children's clothes lying strewn in the wreckage.

Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank have killed more than 300 Palestinians since the Israel-Hamas war erupted, Palestinian health officials say.

Standing in a bombed-out Jenin mosque strewn with shattered tiles, Hani Al Damaj, an elderly Palestinian who lived next door, said he and his relatives were lucky to escape alive when it was hit.

Other camp residents told AFP that some people had been killed in their beds by stray bullets during Israeli operations.

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In a multi-day raid earlier this month, Israeli forces killed 11 people and a sick 13-year-old boy died after he had been prevented from reaching hospital, Palestinian health authorities said.

Among the wounded was a 27-year-old woman shot in the chest, said the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

The military said at the time that troops had seized dozens of weapons and dismantled multiple bomb-making laboratories.

Last month, the Israeli army killed 14 people in the deadliest single raid in the West Bank since 2005, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Israel has occupied the Palestinian territory since the Six-Day War of 1967.

Earlier this month footage showed Israeli soldiers inside another mosque in the camp reciting a Jewish prayer through the loudspeakers, in what the Palestinian presidency called a "shameful desecration". The army said the soldiers had been taken off duty.

Soldiers were also accused of breaking into the nearby Freedom Theatre, where an AFP correspondent saw a trail of damage.

"What is this kind of behaviour from a soldier?" said the theatre's artistic director Ahmed Tobasi.

"Our life, our future, our sleeping, our breathing -- it's in Israeli hands."


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