During the one-week ceasefire in Gaza that ended on December 1, the Israeli Defence Force intensified attacks in the West Bank. In Jenin, a city no stranger to the IDF, two children were among the Palestinians shot dead.
The boys joined a growing number of Palestinians deemed “collateral damage” outside of Gaza – killed as part of what Israel deems its “defence” against terrorism.
As the temporary ceasefire in Gaza and surrounding neighbourhoods came to an end, it took with it the moments of “peace” Palestinians breathed in while navigating the ruins of their homes and finding the bodies of loved ones killed by Israeli strikes or crushed in the resulting destruction.
During this seven-day ceasefire, announced after 57 days of Israel’s deadly bombardment of Gaza since October 7, violence in the West bank against Palestinians by IDF soldiers and armed Israeli settlers did not “cease”.
The Israeli incursion into the West Bank city of Jenin on November 28 and 29 was said to be aimed at suppressing jihadist activity, but eight-year-old Adam Samer al-Ghoul and 15-year-old Basil Suleiman Abu al-Wafa were shot dead when hundreds of Israeli troops entered Jenin to carry out the operation.
Both children were fired at from inside a heavily armoured military vehicle. Adam was hit with a bullet to the head while Basil was shot in the chest.
Local sources told Palestinian news agency Wafa Israeli occupation forces stopped citizens and paramedics from reaching and treating them. They were eventually transferred to hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.
Yesterday, they murdered two more children in Jenin: Adam Samer al-Ghoul, 8, got shot in the head (attached link/video), and Basil Suleiman Abu al-Wafa, 15, in the chest.https://t.co/FtYSowpnSB
— Neil (@Digi_Neil) November 30, 2023
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Israeli troops have killed 265 Palestinians, including 63 children, in the occupied West Bank since October 7, and an additional eight Palestinians were killed by armed Israeli settlers. These numbers continue to rise.
Prior to October 7, 192 Palestinians, including 40 children, had been killed in the West Bank in 2023, the highest number over a year since 2005 when the UN began recording fatalities there. Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians has risen steadily in the West Bank, emboldened by the right-wing Netanyahu government, which is seeking to annex the Jordan Valley.
In Jenin, in the early days of November alone, 14 people were killed, another five died during Israel’s raid on November 28 and 29 aimed at detaining a suspected militant behind the “jihadist activity”.
Last weeks raids around Jenin, Hebron, Nablus, Jericho, Ramallah, Qalqilya and Bethlehem, also resulted in the detention of at least 15 Palestinians. Israel has arrested over 3,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since October 7, according to the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territories.
In the two weeks following Hamas’ attack, the number of Palestinians in Israeli jails rose to 10,000, almost double the 5,200 held prior to October 7, most for alleged security offences. The figure has continued to grow. About 150 Palestinian detainees were released in the recent hostage swap.
At least six Palestinians, also, have died in custody in jail since October 7, an unprecedented figure, with human rights organisations saying there were signs they had been beaten.
But arrests and detentions, are far from a new thing in the occupied territories with 2,000 Palestinians held in administrative detention, where the IDF detains them without charge or trial. And while some arrests have been for very serious offences, including murder, many are for throwing stones. It is these lengthy detentions that Hamas claimed was the motivation behind taking hostages from Israel on October 7, as leverage for their release.
Jenin’s history of resistance
Jenin’s long-standing resistance against the Israeli occupation reverberates across Palestine, with The Battle of Jenin in 2002 etched in the minds of Palestinians everywhere.
On April 3, 2002, Israeli forces attacked the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank as part of Operation Defensive Shield. The Israeli military framed the invasion of the camp as a defensive measure against suspected militants, a response to six suicide bombings inside Israel in the two prior weeks that claimed 56 lives and injured hundreds.
A United Nations report issued in August 2002, said 52 Palestinians were killed in Jenin, half of them civilians. Though the report rejected allegations of a civilian massacre, it faulted Israel for endangering civilians by using heavy weaponry in the densely populated refugee camp, as well as preventing medical assistance.
Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch sent investigators to Jenin and reported Israel’s actions may constitute “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, among other serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
Human Rights Watch documented the “unlawful and deliberate killings, and the killing or wounding of protected individuals as a result of the excessive or disproportionate use of force”.
It found the IDF to be in violation of international humanitarian law prohibitions against “willful killing” of non-combatants. HRW also found instances of IDF soldiers deliberately obstructing the work of medical personnel and preventing medical assistance to the wounded with no apparent or obvious justification or military necessity – similar to claims made in the the killings of al-Ghoul and Abu al-Wafan.
Similarly, on June 19 this year, Israeli forces killed five Palestinians and wounded 91 during its military raid on the refugee camp. On this day, Palestinian writer and senior policy analyst for alshabaka, Dr Yara Hawari wrote: “The Israeli regime invaded Jenin refugee camp once again. As they failed to quell the resistance, they brought in helicopters to drop bombs on residents. Five Palestinians have been killed so far and over 90 injured according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.”
Jenin residents told The New Arab these attacks on the refugee camp “brought back painful memories of Israel’s bloody invasion of the camp during the Second Intifada in 2002”.
The more recent attacks on Jenin and other Palestinian territories are all too familiar to Palestinians, including those who live in Gaza and occupied Palestine, those whose families fled years ago, and the Palestinian diaspora scattered around the world.
From the first Nakba in 1948, to the present-day genocide-in-the-making, generations of Palestinians have endured multiple assaults, threats to erase their bloodlines, and occupation and confiscation of their lands by Israel.
In the three hours following the end of the ceasefire on December 1, 36 Palestinians were killed, and several others were injured. On December 4, 1,000 Palestinians were killed in 24 hours, as reported by Palestinian journalist on the ground, Bisan Owda. The death toll continues to rise.
In heartbreaking social media videos mothers and fathers hold their dead children. Mass graves, bodies in rubble and horizons of smoke and fire are Gaza’s reality – played out on Twitter and Telegram. The scenes repeat day in and out, with the support of the Australian government and the western powers on this “side” of the world.
From Jenin to every Palestinian village, town and city, Israeli bombardment of civilians, schools, hospitals, residents and supposed “safe zones” continues, while Palestinian resistance to being wiped out or forced off their land persists.
Due to some Australian media organisations penalising or discriminating against reporters for complaining about an anti-Palestinian bias in reporting on the conflict, as well as online trolling of student social media accounts, the author of this story has chosen to remain anonymous.
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