Israel army kills two Palestinians in refugee camp raid

Israel says one man was killed in attempt to ram soldiers, the latest incident after months of escalated violence.

Israeli attacks on Qalandia protests
Palestinian protesters run from tear gas during clashes with Israeli forces near the Qalandiya refugee camp last month [File: Majdi Mohammed/AP]

Two Palestinians have been killed and four wounded during an overnight Israeli army raid on the Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank. 

Ahmed Jahajha, 21, and Hikmet Hamdan, 29, were both shot dead by Israeli forces before dawn on Wednesday morning. While inside the camp, Israeli troops raided a local medical centre and clashed with youth, according to locals. 

Mona Sabella, legal research and advocacy coordinator for the Al-Haq human rights organisation, said that Israel’s raids on refugee camps in the West Bank “put at risk the Palestinian civilian population”. 

“The Israeli occupying power has a responsibility to protect under international law; this is especially true in refugee camps that are overcrowded [and where] homes are very close to one another,” Sabella told Al Jazeera. 

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the deaths, adding that Hamdan was shot dead as he tried to ram his vehicle into Israeli soldiers during a raid to “make an arrest and confiscate weapons” in the refugee camp.

 Anger among Palestinian teenagers

Speaking to Al Jazeera, the Israeli spokesman added that three Israeli soldiers, lightly wounded during the incident, have been transferred to a nearby hospital.

“Initial reports suggest that they were wounded by fire [shot by other Israeli soldiers] directed at the attacker.” 

It was not immediately reported why Jahajha was killed.

Tensions have boiled over on a near-daily basis in recent months, as Palestinians continue to protest Israel’s ongoing occupation and an uptick in Israeli incursions into occupied East Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site for Muslims.

Since October 1, Israeli forces have killed at least 121 Palestinians, including unarmed protesters, bystanders and suspected attackers. Meanwhile, 22 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attackers.

Last month, Amnesty International condemned Israel’s use of “extrajudicial” killings. 

“Israeli forces have a long history of carrying out unlawful killings in the occupied Palestinian territories, including extrajudicial executions,” Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme, said in a statement

“While the number of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli civilians, soldiers and police has increased significantly since the beginning of October, there is never any excuse for the Israeli military and police forces using lethal force where it is not warranted.”

In a separate incident, Israeli bulldozers razed a Palestinian home and arrested three people in the West Bank city of Hebron, according to local Arabic-language media reports. 

The home belonged to the family of Abdelmohsen Hassouneh, a 21-year-old Palestinian who was killed by Israeli forces on Monday while allegedly attempting to ram his car into a group of Israelis. At least 14 Israelis were injured during the incident. 

Follow Patrick Strickland on Twitter: @P_Strickland_

Source: Al Jazeera