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Eyewitnesses describe 'massacre' by Israeli raid in Nablus

'A massacre was happening outside our house': Residents in Nablus describe Israeli raid that killed 10 Palestinians
5 min read
West Bank
22 February, 2023
"As the occupation forces withdrew, residents threw all sorts of things on them, from chairs to garbage cans to vegetables, as a simple way to alleviate the sense of incapacity and humiliation," said a resident.
"I rushed to the hospital after calls for blood donation, but there were so many people in confusion and panic that I couldn't enter," said a witness. [Getty]

Palestinians in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus described the Israeli military raid on Monday morning as "a massacre", after the Palestinian health ministry announced the names of at least ten Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during the raid.

The health ministry identified the victims as Adnan Baara, 72, Mohammad Ainabusi, 25, Tamer Minawi, 33, Musaab Oweis, 26, Husam Islayem, 24 and Mohammad Abu Baker, 23, Mohammad Shaaban, 16, Abdel Hadi Ashqar, 61, Jaser Quneir, 23 and Riyad Dakheel, 23. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement that its medic teams treated tens of injuries and wounded, in addition to some 250 cases of asphyxiation with tear gas.

Israeli forces raided Nablus' old city at around 10:30 am from the city's eastern side, according to residents, and surrounded a house where both Husam Islayem and Mohammad Abu Baker were staying.

Gunfighting erupted shortly after between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters.

"Occupation forces entered with large numbers of military vehicles from the eastern side, through the Balata refugee camp," Nisreen Ghazal, a resident of Nablus, told The New Arab. "As soon as the occupation vehicles were inside the old city, they crashed a civilian car and began shooting live bullets."

"Adnan Baara, a 72-year-old man was walking back home in the old city when his relative told him to take refuge from the raid inside his spice shop, and he refused, saying that he was too old for the occupation soldiers to stop or target him," said Ghazal. "Five minutes later he was shot in the chest while walking towards the occupation forces, and died immediately."

"Mohammad Ainabusi was my neighbour, a very respectful and kind young man," Ghazal added. "He was getting married in a few days, and he was in the old city market preparing for his wedding when he was shot." 

"At first, me and my family refused to believe the news on social media because we didn't want to admit that a massacre was happening just outside our house, then the health ministry began to confirm the names," she said.

"As the occupation forces withdrew, residents threw all sorts of things on them, from chairs to garbage cans to vegetables, as a simple way to alleviate the sense of incapacity and humiliation," she added. 

"As soon as the news of the raid broke out, young men took to the streets and began to block them with stones and burning tires," Arej Batta, another resident of Nablus, told TNA. "Then I heard that one of the killed was Tamer Minawi, whom I knew."

"He was a delivery worker, a simple and kind young man who spent all his time in work," she described. "I rushed to the Rafidia hospital as news spread that there was a need for blood donations, but I couldn't even enter the hospital because of the large numbers of people in front of it."

"There was a lot of panic and confusion, and parents were running to take their children from schools while businesses were closing one after the other," she added.

One of the victims, Abdel Hadi Qashqar, was pronounced dead after several failed resuscitation attempts at the Rafidia hospital.

"My colleague Elias and I headed to the emergency section to treat the wounded, and we found that the hearts of two of them had stopped," Ahmad Aswad, a nurse at the Rafidia hospital, wrote on his Facebook page.

"We tried to resuscitate them without even looking at their faces, and we called one of the surgeons who tried his best with one of the two cases, before pronouncing him dead," wrote Aswad.

"Elias then looked at the victim's face and screamed that it was his father, so I showed him the victim's ID card which I held in my hand and asked Elias to check again, and he confirmed it was his father," added the nurse.

Although the Israeli army has not released an immediate statement, Israeli media claimed that Israeli forces demanded Husam Islayem, Mohammad Abu Baker and a third Palestinian to surrender, which they refused, leading to a gunfight.

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Meanwhile, the Nablus-based Palestinian armed group "The Lions' Den" said in a statement on Telegram that its fighters were confronting Israeli forces with gunfire in Nablus' old city, calling on Palestinians to take part in confronting the raid.

The Israeli raid on Nablus left the largest number of Palestinians killed in a single day since Israeli forces’ massacre in Jenin, in late January, where Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, including a 61-year-old woman.

Israeli forces have been escalating raids on Palestinian cities and communities in the occupied West Bank since last year. The killings in Nablus on Monday raise the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2023 to 58, including 10 children and teenagers.

Wednesday's raid on Nablus is the latest in a series of daily Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank since last week, despite reports of an agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to reduce Israeli raids, in exchange for the PA withdrawing support for a UN resolution condemning the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.