‘He was my life’: The people killed by Israeli forces in Jenin

Al Jazeera spoke to the families of the Palestinians killed by the Israeli army during a violent raid in Jenin on Monday.

family of Amjad Jaas
The family of Amjad Abu Jaas, 48, mourn his killing on June 19 by the Israeli army. Amjad was one of seven Palestinians killed in one of the deadliest raids on the Jenin refugee camp since 2002 [Ayman Nobani/Al Jazeera]

Jenin, occupied West Bank – Qassam Faisal Abu Sirriyeh was shot dead by the Israeli army minutes after he left his house to help the dozens of Palestinians injured during a huge raid on the Jenin refugee camp.

Qassam was one of seven Palestinians, including two minors, killed by Israeli forces in the deadly assault on the camp that unfolded at about 5:30am on Monday and lasted 11 hours.

Those killed were identified by Palestinian health officials as Ahmad Yousif Saqr, 15, Ahmad Daraghmeh, 19, Khalid Azzam Darwish, 21, Qays Majdi Jabareen, 21, Amjad Abu Jaas, 48, and Qassam, who was 29.

Sadeel Ghassan Naghnaghiyeh, 15, succumbed to her wounds on Wednesday morning.

More than 100 Palestinians were injured, including with live ammunition, with at least 20 still in a serious to critical condition, in one of the largest attacks by Israel on the camp since the second Intifada in 2002.

Ahmad Saqr, 15

In another corner of the camp, 15-year-old Ahmad Yousif Saqr from the village of Burqin some five kilometres (three miles) west of Jenin was shot dead during the raid.

His parents told Al Jazeera he walked to the camp as soon as he heard the Israeli army had raided it.

“It was such a bloody day. My son went out like all the other youths. He left the house at 5:30am when the army first entered to walk to the camp,” 50-year-old Yousif Saqr, Ahmad’s father, told Al Jazeera.

“What Ahmad saw in the camp affected him badly, especially the martyrdom of his friend Omar three months ago,” said Yousif, referring to 16-year-old Omar Awwadeen, who was killed during an army raid on March 16.

“After Omar was killed, Ahmad would wait for the army to raid the camp and he would go there to be with the men,” said Yousif.

Ahmad Saqer, Jenin
Ahmad Saqr’s sister holds her phone up to show her slain, 15-year-old brother [Ayman Nobani/Al Jazeera]

“When Ahmad was killed, I felt as though I lost one of my organs. He was the light of my eye. He was barely in the eighth grade. He used to help me with everything around the house and outside. He helped me with farming and herding the sheep. He grew zucchini and cucumbers on our land,” he continued.

“We call on humanitarian organisations to intervene. They [Israel] have no conscience – they kill men, women and children. There is no United Nations, there is no one to help us, no one to hold them accountable,” said Yousif.

Sadeel Ghassan Naghnaghiyeh, 15

The second child killed by the Israeli army during the raid on Jenin was 15-year-old Sadeel Ghassan Naghnaghiyeh, who was her parents’ only daughter among four boys.

Sadeel was shot in the head and spent two days in hospital before succumbing to her wounds on Wednesday morning.

Her uncle, Nidal Naghnaghiyeh, 51, told Al Jazeera his niece, who was in the eighth grade, had been dreaming of majoring in design once she graduated high school

Sadeel, he said, was shot in the head while standing in the yard of her home in the camp, filming the Israeli army.

“She was standing at the entrance to our building. An Israeli armoured vehicle was passing by and stopped for a few minutes. She was filming them with her phone.

“The army shot two bullets at her, one of them pierced through her head, and the other one hit the wall next to her,” Nidal told Al Jazeera.

“The Israeli army is basically a group of gangs that practise organised murder. It is organised Zionist crime. We have experienced and seen this for decades. It is not new to us,” said Nidal.

“The problem is that there is nothing to deter them. The majority of those injured on Monday were children. I was there and saw with my own eyes. They were targeting everything that moved,” he continued.

Ahmad Daraghmeh, 19, Tubas

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the city of Tubas east of Jenin, 19-year-old Ahmad Daraghmeh’s family said their son was a first-year student of economics at the Arab American University in Jenin.

His father, Khaled Daraghmeh, 62, said he found out that his son had gone to Jenin about half an hour before he was killed in the camp.

“I called my son and told him to come home … he said he was on the way. Moments later, I got news from our relatives that Ahmad had been injured in the head.

“I went out quickly with the car to Jenin in the hope that he would survive. When I arrived, the doctors told me he is already in the morgue freezer.”

Daraghmeh, whose other son Muheeb is being held in an Israeli prison without trial or charge for the third time, said, “Ahmad was not simply part of my life – he was my entire life.”

Khalid Azzam Darwish, 21

Meanwhile, the family of Khalid Darwish said their son had gone to the confrontations, despite knowing he could be killed.

“He went to bed early for the first time and he woke up before dawn. We prayed the dawn prayers together, and then he got a call from the shabab [youth] that the army is in the camp,” his mother, 52-year-old Ghada Darwish, told Al Jazeera.

“He went down there immediately. About half an hour later, we heard that he had been martyred.

“May God give patience to all the mothers of martyrs. If we do not defend our homeland, who will defend it?” she said.

Family of Khalid Darwish
Ghada Darwish, 52, holds up a photo of her son, Khalid, who was killed on Monday, June 19 by the Israeli army [Ayman Nobani/Al Jazeera]

His 58-year-old uncle, who bears the same name Khalid, said Israel aims to “break the revolutionary spirit in the Palestinian street” by raiding Jenin and other parts of the northern occupied West Bank.

“Khalid was 21 – he was at the beginning of his journey. He was very kind and he had a smile on his face at all times,” his uncle said. “His killing is a huge loss to us. We are still in shock.

“The lives of our people are not normal. The occupation has not left us alone for even a minute. Whether with forced displacement, arrests or killings. We live in this reality every day,” he continued.

“As long as our youth live in these conditions, they will continue to defend their land.”

Qays Majdi Jabareen, 21

Majdi Adel Moussa Jabareen was woken at about 5:30am by a phone call from his cousin telling him that his eldest son, 21-year-old Qays, had been injured at the camp.

The family rushed to the hospital where they were told Qays needed surgery on his head.

“We found him in the emergency room of the Jenin public hospital. They were still scanning his head and he needed surgery.

“He went into the operating room for three to four hours. The doctors told us that he was stable and that there was no internal bleeding, so we thought that he was going to be OK,” Jabareen told Al Jazeera.

 family of Qays Jabareen
Majdi Jabareen said his slain son worked with him as a blacksmith [Ayman Nobani/Al Jazeera]

“I went back home at noon and told his brother to stay in the hospital until I returned. While I was praying, I heard shouting: ‘Qays has been martyred!’” Jabareen said.

“I don’t know what happened with Qays exactly. He went to bed at midnight and got up for dawn prayers and went back to sleep. We were shocked that he wasn’t in his bed when we got the call.

“Qays was more than a son to me. He was my friend. We recently built a home for him above ours. He had chickens and other animals he would take care of. He was so very loved by everyone,” he said.

Qassam Faisal Abu Sirriyeh, 29

“They came at the camp in such a barbaric way, shooting at all the homes,” Qassam’s mother, Amal Abu Sirriyeh, 65, told Al Jazeera from the family’s home in the camp in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

“I tried to stop my son from leaving the house, but everyone went out on the streets. He wanted to help, to save the injured people. Anyone with any dignity would have gone to help. Minutes after he went out, we heard that he’d been killed,” said Amal.

“Even the women are on the streets! How do you expect us men to stay home?” Qassam’s sister Wessam, 39, recalled her brother saying before he left the house.

“I told him ‘I won’t let you go alone.’

“When I went out after him, the army was shooting everywhere, and my parents told me to come back. I could no longer see where Qassam went,” Wessam told Al Jazeera.

family of Qassam Abu Sirriyeh
Amal Abu Sirriyeh, 65, holds her son’s 18-month-old daughter, whom he named Amal after his mother [Ayman Nobani/Al Jazeera]

“It was only five minutes between Qassam going out and when he was martyred. This camp is our land and our honour. When the army comes in to attack us, we prefer death and martyrdom over indignity – what do you expect from us?” his father, Faisal Abu Sirriyeh, 65, told Al Jazeera.

“The whole world is sleeping; they don’t care about the Palestinian people. To Ukraine, they sent weapons immediately, but where is the support for the Palestinian people? Arab leaders are traitors. The Palestinian people are dying every day, and these people only want to remain in power,” he continued.

Qassam, a husband and father to 18-month-old Amal, worked at the Jenin municipality.

Amjad Abu Jaas, 48

The oldest of the seven Palestinians killed in Jenin was 48-year-old Amjad Abu Jaas, a father of three, who succumbed to his gunshot wounds on Tuesday morning.

He was killed only three months after his son, 22-year-old Waseem, was shot dead by the Israeli army in the camp.

“I bid farewell to my son Waseem in January, and today I am bidding farewell to my husband. My husband followed his son,” Hadeel Abu Jaas, Amjad’s 43-year-old wife told Al Jazeera.

wife of Amjad Abu Jaas - Jenin
Hadeel Abu Jaas’s son Waseem was killed by the Israeli army in January, followed by her husband who was killed on June 19 [Ayman Nobani/Al Jazeera]

According to the family, Abu Jaas was killed when he went out to look for his other son, Rayyan, whom he couldn’t find at home during the raid.

“We had a coffee at my house at around 8:30am in the morning. He told me he was going back home … the violence was still ongoing,” said Amjad’s father, 74-year-old Aref Abu Jaas.

“He left and when he didn’t find his son at home, he went out to look for him. After a couple of hours, we heard that Amjad had been injured.”

family of Amjad Jaas
Aref Abu Jaas, 74, had coffee with his son Amjad hours before he was killed [Ayman Nobani/Al Jazeera]

Hadeel, Amjad’s wife, said her husband became very worried about Rayyan after he lost Waseem.

“He’d try to keep him at home when the army raids. Amjad was mentally depleted after Waseem was killed. They [Israel] punished us by cancelling his permit to work [inside Israel]. He couldn’t work for three months,” she said.

Trying to hold back tears, Hadeel said her husband “always put his family first. He was very kind to me and his children. Everyone loved him. He never hurt anyone.”

Reporting by Ayman Nobani in Nablus, occupied West Bank. 

Source: Al Jazeera