Bombed, then stabbed: West Bank doctors recall horrors of refugee camp raid

The Israeli raids on the Nur Shams and Fawwar refugee camps followed a pattern of deadly assaults that have killed more than 300 people in the West Bank since October 7, say doctors and politicians.

Protesters and mourners at the funeral procession of Ahmed Muhammad Yaghi, 17, and Ibrahim Majed Al-Titi, 31, killed in an Israeli attack on al-Fawwar refugee camp on December 26, 2023
Protesters and mourners at the funeral procession of Ahmed Muhammad Yaghi, 17, and Ibrahim Majed al-Titi, 31, killed in an Israeli attack on the Fawwar refugee camp on December 26, 2023 [Mosab Shawer/Al Jazeera]

Fawwar, occupied West Bank — It was one o’clock at night when the casualties started arriving at Thabet Thabet Governmental Hospital in the city of Tulkarem.

There were six of them, all with critical wounds, said Dr Iyad al-Aqqad, the hospital’s medical director. They were victims of an Israeli bombing on the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem, during a raid that started on the night of December 26 and continued into the early hours of the following day.

It was the second time in 24 hours that Israeli forces had stormed the camp, entering several homes, and dropping at least two bombs, including on an industrial facility. Israeli soldiers are often accused — both in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip — of not allowing ambulances to reach the wounded promptly. That is what happened in Nur Shams too, say witnesses and doctors — a two-hour delay during which the six men were bleeding.

By the time they were brought to al-Aqqad’s hospital, it was too late to save them.

The six joined a ballooning list of Palestinians killed in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers since October 7, when a Hamas attack on southern Israel sparked a deadly war of retribution focused on — though not limited to — Gaza. Since then, Israeli bombing and artillery attacks have killed more than 21,000 people in Gaza, while Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed more than 300 people in the West Bank. At least 56 people have been killed in Tulkarem governorate itself, according to the Shireen Observatory, a non-profit group that tracks killings and arrests by Israeli forces.

Tens of thousands more have been injured in Gaza and the West Bank. Soon after the six victims of the Israeli bombing on Nur Shams arrived early on December 27, several other Palestinians with injuries from the attack were brought to Thabet Thabet Governmental Hospital. Three of them had serious injuries to their upper bodies.

And all of them had harrowing tales to relate to the doctors.

Radwan Balibla, the head of the Tulkarem Doctors’ Syndicate, said a soldier had stabbed one of the victims in the neck while he was being moved to the hospital in an ambulance. Others said they had been beaten in the ambulances.

“They were told, ‘We do not want you to reach the hospital and survive’,” Balibla told Al Jazeera.

Just hours later, Israel launched another raid, this time in the Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron. As Israeli troops entered homes and occupied the streets for hours, they faced confrontations with locals and responded by opening fire.

Ahmed Muhammad Yaghi, 17, and Ibrahim Majed al-Titi, 31, were killed. Ambulance crews in the camp provided first aid to them and transferred them to Yatta Governmental Hospital, but they died as a result of their critical injuries. Six other injured people were transferred to hospitals to receive treatment.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, the representative of the Fatah movement in the Fawwar camp, Muhammad Abu Esh, said Israeli forces are storming the camp on an almost daily basis. Israel’s army has also closed the entrances to the camp since October 7, hampering the movement of Palestinians by preventing entry and exit. Meanwhile, amid increasingly frequent raids, the number of detainees has also grown to 100 in Fawwar.

Abu Esh said Israel had deployed snipers inside buildings and houses during the raid this week. Yet, he added, “Israel is mistaken if it thinks it is scaring the people al-Fawwar”, especially its children. “No attacks ever will.”

Source: Al Jazeera