Israel launches West Bank crackdown following a series of daring Palestinian attacks

Israel launches West Bank crackdown following a series of daring Palestinian attacks
The attacker, a 27-year-old Palestinian from Yaabad, near Jenin, had been detained in Israeli jails for three years. After the mass shooting, the Israeli army raided the shooter's hometown in the West Bank and his parents' home.
4 min read
West Bank
30 March, 2022
The attack is the third in a week [Getty]

Five Israelis were killed late on Tuesday in a shooting attack in the Bnei Brak suburb of Tel Aviv. The attacker was later identified as a 27-year-old Palestinian Diaa Hamarsheh from the village of Yaabad, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank. 

The shooter killed four people, before exchanging fire with the Israeli police and he was killed, Israeli media reported. An Israeli policeman died later from wounds sustained by the gunfight.  

Hamarsheh was once "a polite and disciplined young man appreciated by all those who knew him", his uncle, Nour Hamarsheh, told The New Arab.

"He was a dedicated student until he was arrested by Israeli forces in 2013 when he was only 18 and spent three years in Israeli jails," his uncle added. "After his release, he began to work in his father's business, a mobile phone shop."

Diaa Hamarsheh's father told the Palestinian media that "[he] was very affected by the situation here, the hard conditions and daily killings, but I never thought that he would take it so far. I still can't believe that he did what he did."

The region of Jenin has consistently been targeted by Israeli military raids in recent months.

In early March, two Palestinian teens from the Jenin refugee camp were killed by Israeli forces during a raid to the camp. In the same week, Israeli forces demolished the home of a Palestinian it accused of shooting dead an Israeli settler, near Jenin, making nine of his family members homeless.

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"Hundreds of people in Yaabad [area] gathered in front of Hamarsheh's parents' house, in a sign of support," Raed Abu Baker, a local journalist in Yaabad, told The New Arab. "Young men also closed entrances to the town with rocks and burning tires in expectation of an Israeli raid," he added.

Israeli forces raided Yaabad before dawn on Wednesday and arrested at least three Palestinians, including two members of Hamarsheh's family.

Israeli forces still occupy several houses in Yaabad, including Hamarsheh's parents' home.

According to Hamarsheh's father, Israeli soldiers gathered the family in one room and interrogated Hamarsheh's brother, while threatening the family that the house will be demolished.

"They took measurements of the house and drilled holes in the walls in preparation for demolition," he said.

The Israeli army also conducted several other raids across the West Bank, arresting at least 11 more Palestinians in Ramallah, Bethlehem, the Balata refugee camp in Nablus and several villages.  

A video footage circulated on Palestinian social media accounts of what was said to be the moment of one of Wednesday’s dawn arrests.

According to Israeli media reports, the Israeli army announced a ban of entry to Israel on all Palestinian workers from the West Bank until further notice.

Reports added that the army has also decided to send four additional brigades into the occupied West Bank.

Following news of the attack, Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian villages of Deir Sharaf and Assira Al-Qibliyah near Nablus, torching one car and damaging another, as well as spraying racist slogans on walls.

Israeli settlers also attacked Palestinian cars at the northern entrance of Ramallah, forcing Palestinians going back to neighbouring towns to take longer alternate routes out of the city.

A general strike was also called for by various political and social factions in the town in mourning of Diaa Hamarsheh.

Palestinian media reported that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in separate statements that the attack was "a natural response to Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people".

Meanwhile, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine considered the attack "a proof of our people's determination and will to fight" in its own statement about the incident. 

For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack in a press statement, stressing that "the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians only leads to further deterioration of the situation at a time when we all try to maintain stability."

The attack came one day after Jordan's King Abdullah held talks with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah in an effort to ease tensions ahead of Ramadan, and shortly after a summit in the Negev that brought together Israeli and Arab leaders engaged in so-called normalisation agreements.