Eyewitnesses describe 'traumatic' Israeli raid that killed five Palestinians in Jericho
The Israeli military raid on the refugee camp of Aqbat Jabr in Jericho that killed five Palestinians on Monday "traumatised the entire population of the camp", residents said to The New Arab.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement that its medics treated three Palestinians wounded by live ammunition, one of whom is in serious condition, and it treated three more Palestinians for asphyxiation due to tear gas.
For its part, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club in a statement said that the Israeli forces arrested eight Palestinians in Aqbat Jabr.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry announced that the five killed by Israeli forces in Aqbat Jabr were 21-year-old Raafat Aweidat, 22-year-old Malek Lafi, 22-year-old Adham Aweidat, 27-year-old Ibrahim Aweidat and 28-year-old Thaer Aweidat; all the victims are residents of the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp.
Israeli media quoted the Israeli army claiming that the five Palestinians killed by its forces in Aqbat Jabr were Hamas-linked gunmen who planned to attack Israelis. The Israeli army accused two victims of being behind a shooting at an Israeli settlement near Jericho on Saturday, which left no casualties.
Hamas, on its side, mourned two of the five killed as its members.
"At 3:00 am the occupation forces entered the camp and surrounded a house amidst gunfire," Mohammad Kharshan, a resident of the camp, told TNA.
"I woke up to the sound of gunfire that continued for almost an hour, but didn't dare to step out until the occupation withdrew after sunrise," said Kharshan.
"There were blood stains on the street near the house, and dozens of residents gathered. Then I learned that five young men were killed and that at least two were wounded and taken into arrest by the occupation soldiers," he added.
"I woke up to the sound of gunfire at 3:00 am and learned that the occupation army was in the camp," Um Fares, director of the women's association of Aqbat Jabr and resident of the camp, said to TNA.
"Since Saturday, the occupation army has been raiding the camp every night, with drones flying overhead and releasing large amounts of a very strong type of tear gas that cause skin and eyes to feel burning for hours onto the streets of the camp. But this time it was different because there was heavy gunfire for a long period," she said.
"At sunrise, I came out to discover with other residents that it had been a tragedy," Um Fares continued. "I knew all the young men killed, and one of them, Malek Aweidat, was my neighbour, always polite and smiling, always lending a hand to help whenever he saw me," she said.
"They were all very young, still single and hard-working sons of hard-working families. Malek worked at the intercontinental hotel as a swimming rescuer, the others worked in construction," she further said.
"Two of the five were brothers; Raafat and Ibrahim Aweidat. I was at their mother's house and she is still in a state of shock, not being able to say anything but thanking God for everything," she added.
Residents also confirmed that Israeli forces withheld the bodies of all five Palestinians killed.
The five Palestinians killed by the lsraeli occupation forces in Jericho. pic.twitter.com/2c1yVV413H— TIMES OF GAZA (@Timesofgaza) February 6, 2023
Among the wounded, one was taken to the Ramallah public hospital to be treated for serious injuries while another was arrested by Israeli forces, while bleeding, according to residents.
"Qusai Farah is a teenager who came out to confront the occupation forces with stones and burning tires," a resident of Aqbat Jabr, who asked not to be named, said to TNA.
"He was shot in the stomach and was bleeding, and other youngsters carried him to take him to safety but the occupation soldiers stopped them and took Qusai to a military jeep and left," the resident said.
"Ahmed Bayed was shot in the upper body and bled a lot, but he was taken to the Ramallah hospital soon enough, and his family just confirmed that he is still in intensive care," the resident added.
The refugee camp of Aqbat Jabr has been a target of Israeli demolitions in recent months. Since early Monday Israeli forces have set checkpoints on all entrances of Jericho, restricting movement in and out of the city.
The Palestinian foreign affairs ministry condemned Monday's Israeli raid in Jericho and the killing of five Palestinians, calling on the international community to provide protection for the Palestinian people.
Israeli forces have escalated their raids on West Bank Palestinian towns and cities since the beginning of the year, killing at least 40 Palestinians so far, including six children.