New Israeli raid on Balata 'most violent in years', say Palestinian residents

New Israeli raid on Balata 'most violent in years', say Palestinian residents
Hundreds of Israeli forces took part in the raid on the Balata refugee camp in Nablus on Monday.
3 min read
West Bank
22 May, 2023
Israeli forces killed three Palestinians, wounded three more, and detonated three properties during the raid, according to residents [photo for illustrative purposes/Getty]

A new Israeli military raid on the Balata refugee camp in Nablus that killed three Palestinians early on Monday was "the most violent in many years", residents told The New Arab.

Israeli forces left the camp after causing extensive damage to property and injuring dozens of Palestinians, in addition to the three residents who were killed, locals said.

On Monday before dawn, hundreds of Israeli soldiers entered the refugee camp from the eastern entrance raiding homes for four hours. Three houses were destroyed and at least three Palestinians detained before Israeli forces withdrew from the area at around 5:30am, residents said.

Thirty-year-old Fathi Rezeq, 32-year-old Bilal Zaitoun and 24-year-old Abdallah Hamdan, were shot dead in the raid.

"The occupation entered Balata around 1:30 am, we all [in our home] woke up to the sound of their shooting," Ameen Abu Wardeh, a local journalist and resident of Balata told TNA

"More than 400 soldiers took part in the raids of houses, taking over rooftops and interrogating residents. They were very aggressive, in fact, it was the most violent raid to Balata in years."

Police dogs and live rounds were used in the raid, which is the latest in a series of assaults by Israel in the occupied West Bank.

"Occupation forces raided at least eight houses using police dogs, and we documented a number of injuries by dog bites," Jamal Rayan, a human rights activist in Balata told TNA.

"There were also three wounded by live bullets, besides the three killed, and over sixty treated for asphyxiation from tear gas."

The Israeli army claimed that its forces destroyed a "laboratory containing tens of kilograms of explosives that were to be used in attacks". According to the same Israeli reports, one Israeli soldier was injured during the raid.

Before noon, hundreds of Palestinians took part in the funeral of the three men, whom the ‘Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades’, a dissident group of the Fattah faction, claimed as its members. The group said they were killed confronting Israeli soldiers.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club identified both Rezeq and Zaitoun as former detainees in Israeli jails.

Nabil Abu Rdeineh, the spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency, described the raid as "part of the wholesale Israeli war against our people".

"The US administration's silence encourages the Israeli occupation to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people," he added.

The raid came five days after another assault on eastern Nablus, which includes the Balata camp, aimed at securing the entry of Israeli settlers to the religious site of Joseph's Tomb. That raid left three Palestinians wounded from live bullets and dozens asphyxiated with tear gas.

With the killing of Zaitoun, Rezeq and Hamdan, the number of Palestinians dead from Israeli actions in 2023 rose to 156, including 26 children. Of them, 36 were killed during the recent Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip.

The figure is three times the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during the same period in 2022, which was described by the UN as "the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2005".