Israel lifts Jericho blockade after killing Palestinian suspect

Tight movement restrictions were imposed on Palestinians in Jericho after an American-Israeli was killed this week.

Two Israeli soldiers look out in front of a wall, one is pointing his gun.
Israeli forces killed Mahmoud Hamdan on Wednesday during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jericho [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – The Israeli army has lifted a three-day blockade on the Palestinian city of Jericho in the eastern occupied West Bank after killing a man it claims was responsible for a shooting attack that killed an American-Israeli earlier this week.

Israeli forces shot 22-year-old Palestinian man Mahmoud Jamal Hassan Hamdan during a raid on the Aqabet Jaber refugee camp in Jericho on Wednesday afternoon.

He succumbed to his wounds later in the day, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed.

A general strike swept across Jericho on Thursday in protest over Hamdan’s killing, while the Israeli army removed checkpoints and roadblocks it had placed at the entrances to the city, which had heavily restricted the movement of thousands of Palestinians, as they searched for the perpetrator of the shooting.

The Palestinian shooting attack took place on Monday, killing Elan Ganeles, a 26-year-old American-Israeli and former Israeli army soldier, on a highway near occupied Jericho.

The incident occurred after hundreds of Jewish settlers rampaged through Huwara and other Palestinian villages south of Nablus in the West Bank, killing one Palestinian civilian and injuring hundreds, and burning dozens of cars and homes, in what has been described as a “pogrom”.

Israel had reinforced its troops in its West Bank bases after two brothers from an illegal Jewish settlement were shot dead on Sunday.

That attack came following a large-scale Israeli invasion of occupied Nablus city on February 22 killing 11 Palestinians, in what was the highest Palestinian death toll in a single Israeli operation since 2005.

The raid on Nablus came barely a month after Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians in a similar invasion of the Jenin refugee camp.

After a siege that began on Monday, Israeli forces raided the Aqabet Jaber refugee camp with at least 20 armoured vehicles, killing Hamdan and arresting at least four others on Wednesday.

Palestinian medics were filmed trying to resuscitate Hamdan, before the Israeli army took his body and continues to hold it.

Residents reported that the Israeli army used their homes as military bases during the operation to launch attacks.

“The [Israeli] army took over our house. They were targeting the house opposite ours,” Fathiya Maharmah, a local resident, told Al Jazeera. “They barged into our house when we were gathered about to have lunch. They pushed us all into a corner of the house in the salon and forbade us from moving or doing anything for hours.”

Maharmah also said Israeli snipers had taken up positions in their homes during the raid.

A video, verified by Al Jazeera, appears to show Israeli soldiers using a Palestinian man and his child as human shields during the operation.

The siege on Jericho included heavy movement restrictions on the al-Karameh, or Allenby, border crossing with Jordan – the only way for Palestinians in the West Bank to travel abroad.

At least 65 Palestinians, including 13 children, have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2023.

“In the past 22 years, we have not recorded this many martyrs in the first two months of a year,” the Palestinian health ministry said.

Source: Al Jazeera