Six killed in Israeli strike on refugee camp in occupied West Bank

Ambulances say they were blocked by Israeli forces after attack on Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarem.

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians who were killed during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank
Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians who were killed during an Israeli raid on Nur Shams refugee camp, in Tulkarem, on December 27, 2023 [Ali Sawafta/Reuters]

At least six Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli drone strike during a raid on a refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank, while Israeli forces expanded their operations across the territory.

The overnight drone strike hit a group of Palestinians in the Nur Shams refugee camp next to the town of Tulkarem, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and health officials said on Wednesday.

Six bodies were taken to a local hospital, along with a number of people who were injured in the attack, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The six victims were reportedly young men between the ages of 16 and 29, who were standing and watching while the raid took place, said Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Nur Shams on Wednesday.

“The drone came from above, and the men simply didn’t stand a chance. This was a deliberate kill shot,” he said.

The incursion was the “second-biggest raid” on the refugee camp in 24 hours, said Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.

Ongoing clashes were reported in Tulkarem and Nur Shams until about 7am (05:00 GMT) on Wednesday, he said.

“We were told there were snipers on the roof, that the Israelis had moved into Nur Shams to try and arrest people that they say were ‘wanted’.”

The raids in the refugee camp for a second night in a row have left people increasingly worried about what might happen later in the evening, Fisher added.

Ambulances ‘blocked’

After the strike in Nur Shams, PRCS said the Israeli military blocked ambulances from transporting the dead and wounded.

“People tried to help [the victims], but for at least an hour and a half, the Israelis wouldn’t allow ambulances to get in,” Al Jazeera’s Khan said. “Eventually, they had to pick up the bodies and take them down to where the ambulances were. Of course, at that stage, it was too late. These people were dead.”

Al Jazeera spoke to sources at the local hospital who said an Israeli soldier went into an ambulance and stabbed a man in the neck. He is now being treated in an intensive care unit.

The Israeli military also conducted raids in the cities of Bethlehem, Jenin, Hebron and Tubas overnight. Three people were injured in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

At least 12 people were detained by Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank in overnight raids, the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club said in a statement.

Violence across the West Bank has flared since Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip began on October 7. In that time, more than 300 people have been killed in raids there and more than 4,700 Palestinians have been arrested.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 20,915 people have been killed and 54,918 wounded in Israeli attacks since October 7. The revised death toll from Hamas’s attack on Israel stands at 1,139.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his forces will not lower the intensity of fighting and are instead “deepening operations in southern Gaza”, while Herzi Halevi, the Israeli army’s chief of staff, said the war on Gaza will continue for “many months”.

Source: Al Jazeera