Israeli forces kill Palestinian, thousands protest violent raids

Israeli forces have killed 65 Palestinians, 13 of them children, so far this year, the bloodiest such period since 2000.

Hundreds of mourners carried Mohammad Jawabreh's shrouded body, covered with the Palestinian flag
Hundreds of mourners carried Mohammad Jawabreh's shrouded body, covered with the Palestinian flag, to the cemetery on February 24, 2023 [Mosab Shawer/Al Jazeera]

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Israeli forces have shot and killed a young Palestinian man in the southern occupied West Bank.

Mohammad Jawabreh, 22, was shot in the head during confrontations at the Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron on Thursday afternoon, and succumbed to his wounds on Friday before dawn, local medics said.

He was admitted to the intensive care unit upon arriving at al-Ahli hospital in the city and remained there until his death.

Jawabreh was a police officer with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and worked in Bethlehem city. He was also an undergraduate student in media technology at the Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie, the school said in a statement mourning him.

Translation: Young Mohammad Jawabreh (22 years old) has died as a result of his injuries sustained in confrontations in the Arroub Camp in Hebron last night.

Israeli forces have killed 65 Palestinians, including 13 children, this year so far, and injured hundreds of others, making the first two months of 2023 the deadliest for Palestinians compared with the same period since 2000.

The Palestinian health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the “start of this year is the bloodiest in the occupied West Bank since the year 2000, at least. In the past 22 years, we have not recorded this number of martyrs, in the first two months of a year.”

Confrontations with Israeli forces had broken out on Thursday across the occupied West Bank in response to Israel’s killing of 11 Palestinians and wounding more than 100 others in the city of Nablus a day prior, in what was described as a “massacre”.

Among the victims were three elderly men – aged 72, 66 and 61 – and a 16-year-old boy. More than 80 other Palestinians were shot with live ammunition, and hundreds suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Critical condition

Separately, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported late on Thursday night that two Palestinian men had been shot by Israeli settlers who had descended on the Palestinian village of Qusra in Nablus, and are in critical condition.

Armed groups in the besieged Gaza Strip responded to the Israeli army raid in Nablus by launching rockets at Israel late on Wednesday and threatening a wider escalation.

On Thursday, a general strike swept across the entire 1967-occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, with all aspects of daily life coming to a stop in protest to the killings. Confrontations took place in several cities, villages and refugee camps across the occupied West Bank.

The Nablus-based Lions’ Den armed group – whose members were attacked during the Israeli raid – called on men across the occupied Palestinian territory to take to the streets and protest at midnight (22:00 GMT) on Thursday – a call that was heeded by thousands in the cities and villages of Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Hebron, Jerusalem, and Qalqilya, among others.

“We know that separation is difficult and that martyrdom chose the youth of this country, but we derive our power from you, we depend on you,” the Lions’ Den said. “During the battle, between the sounds of explosions and bullets, we were searching for your voices, the sound of chants, and every time we heard them, we knew we were on the right path.

“Emerge, as much as possible, into the streets, in every city … so that the world can hear the path our people have chosen,” they continued.

Injuries in Hebron

In Hebron, Palestinians marched after Friday prayers to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre in 1994, when an Israeli-American settler opened fire inside the mosque at drawn prayers, killing 29 Palestinians and wounding more than 100 others.

Palestinians protesting the on the anniversary of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre by an American-Israeli settler
Palestinians protesting on the anniversary of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre by an American-Israeli settler, February 24, 2023 [Mosab Shawer/Al Jazeera]

In confrontations that broke out, Israeli forces injured at least three Palestinians in the Bab al-Zawiya area of the Old City of Hebron, the Palestinian health ministry said on Friday afternoon.

The ministry said one of the men is in serious condition after being hit in the head with a sound grenade, while the other two had light injuries from sound grenades and rubber-coated bullets.

Confrontations broke out with Israeli forces in other areas of the occupied West Bank following Friday prayers, including the villages of Qaryout and Beita near Nablus, as well as Beit Einun and Arroub refugee camp near Hebron.

Three Israeli soldiers, holding their guns, in confrontations with marching Palestinians
Confrontations broke out with Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank, including in Hebron, pictured above, February 24, 2023 [Mosab Shawer/Al Jazeera]

The deadly raid in Nablus on Wednesday marked the highest number of Palestinian fatalities in a single Israeli operation in the occupied West Bank since 2005, according to United Nations figures.

It was also the third major Israeli operation in the West Bank since the start of the year and under Israel’s new extreme right-wing government, which was sworn in, in late December.

Along with the near-daily killings of Palestinians that have persisted for more than a year, the new governing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been taking unilateral steps such as announcing major illegal settlement building projects, increasing demolitions of Palestinian homes and imposing collective punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners, all of which threaten to cause an explosive situation on the ground.

Source: Al Jazeera