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Two Palestinians killed, several wounded, in overnight Israeli raids

By Mike J.C.

19wb20121201055153.jpg

Photo by Dylan Collins.


December 19, 2013

An Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp late Wednesday, 18 December, was followed by a second incursion before dawn in Qalqilya, killing two Palestinians and wounding several others. While press reports differ, the incidents highlight the reality of Israeli military impunity in Palestinian-controlled towns and cities and threaten an escalation of violence that could undermine the peace talks currently underway between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

Events began late Wednesday when an undercover unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) entered the northern West Bank Jenin refugee camp in search of an alleged terror cell. When locals detected the undercover officers, armed clashes erupted, prompting upwards of two-dozen IDF reinforcement vehicles to storm the camp. Israeli forces shot dead 23-year-old Nafeh al-Saadi, a member of Islamic Jihad and allegedly one of two suspects wanted for arrest during the raid. Several other locals suffered gunshot wounds, including to the stomach and head. At least one of the injured was taken into Israeli custody. There were no reports of IDF injuries.

The Jenin camp has been the site of frequent Israeli raids and saw heavy fighting during the Second Intifada, including a notorious 2002 military operation, known as the Battle of Jenin, in which the camp was sealed off from international press while the IDF demolished numerous homes and killed at least 50 Palestinian fighters and civilians.

Wednesday’s Jenin raid was followed in the predawn hours by a similar operation in a central neighborhood of the northwestern West Bank municipality of Qalqilya, in which Israeli forces shot dead 28-year old Palestinian security officer Saleh Yaseen. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the IDF was seeking to arrest local militants, including the victim of the raid, who allegedly fired on Israeli soldiers in two separate incidents over the past three months. While the IDF source claimed that Yaseen fired first during the Thursday morning incursion, locals claimed that the PA officer was ambushed while on his way home and had not initiated fire. There were no Israeli casualties.

Qalqilya is located just inside the Green Line dividing the West Bank from Israel and is encircled by the separation barrier except for a tunnel and narrow checkpoint controlled by the IDF.

Both Qalqilya and Jenin are major urban centers, located in "Area A" of the West Bank, the heavily populated regions in which the Palestinian Authority is meant to maintain civilian and security control under the terms of the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993 and 1995. Most of the remainder of the West Bank, and the majority of the territory, falls under Area C, under complete Israeli control, while Area B is divided between Palestinian and Israeli control.

Despite these artificial jurisdictions, the entire West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. The separation barrier, constructed over the last decade, has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice for appropriating Palestinian lands east of the Green Line.

This week’s deadly raids have been strongly condemned by the Palestinian Authority. According a spokesperson for President Mahmoud Abbas, "This dangerous Israeli escalation aims to thwart American and international efforts to move forward with the peace process, and aims to lead the negotiations to a dead end." The official added that, "the Israeli measures aimed to keep us locked in a circle of tensions and violence."

Speaking to Palestine Monitor on Thursday, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, condemned the incursions as "nothing but extra judicial killing, where Israel appoints itself as the prosecutor, the judge, and the executioner at the same time."

"This shows," he continued, "that the Palestinian Authority has no authority whatsoever, and that the Israeli army can come into any place whether it’s Area A, B, or C, and kill people."

"And what happened also revealed very clearly that Israel is using negotiations as a cover for these acts of oppression, besides using it as a cover for expanding settlements."

The current round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority began in July under the auspices of U.S. mediation.

This week’s attacks raise the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year to 27, the majority of which were killed since negotiations began. Four Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in 2013.



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