'We began the new year just like we ended the last one': Palestinians begin 2023 mourning three killed by Israeli forces

'We began the new year just like we ended the last one': Palestinians begin 2023 mourning three killed by Israeli forces
"More than 50 Palestinians were killed in Jenin in 2022, and no later than the second day of 2023, the killings continued," a resident said.
5 min read
West Bank
04 January, 2023
225 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in 2022, making it one of the deadliest years for Palestinians according to the UN. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Palestinians in Bethlehem mourned the third Palestinian killed by Israeli forces since the turn of the year, three days ago. The 15-year-old Adam Ayyad was killed early on Tuesday in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem and was laid to rest at noon following a crowded funeral through the camp's alleys.

Thousands of Palestinians circulated the Dheisheh refugee camp, raising flags and chanting slogans of resistance, while masked militants held Ayyad's coffin. Palestinian factions called for a general strike for the rest of the day in Bethlehem in mourning for the teenager.

"Adam was a joyful young boy, loved by everybody in the camp, and he was the only son to his parents," a friend of the victim, who asked not to be named, said to The New Arab.

"He was full of life and energy, and everybody in Dheisheh felt his loss as their own," said Ayyad's friend. "As soon as the news was announced, residents gathered at the camp's entrance, waiting for the body to be brought from the hospital," he described.

"Adam was a close friend of Omar Manaa, who was also killed in another Israeli raid a month ago," said the friend.

"Several of his cousins are prisoners in the occupation's jails too, and one of his close cousins was wounded by the occupation in 2016, which caused him permanent limb damage. Adam was conscious of all these things in his family," he remarked.

Ayyad was killed during an Israeli military raid into Dheisheh as he joined other youngsters in confronting raiding forces with stones, according to residents.

"The occupation forces came to the camp early in the morning to arrest another young man, and young men began to confront the soldiers with stones," said Ayyad's friend.

"Shortly before the occupation forces withdrew, the news broke that a young boy was seriously wounded and taken to hospital, then the news was confirmed that it was Adam and that he had died," added the friend.

"In his pocket, we found a letter that Adam had written previously and that he apparently carried with him in case he gets killed," they pointed out.

Photos of the hand-written letter circulated on social media accounts and the letter itself was placed on Ayyad's body at the moment of burial. With untidy handwriting and spelling mistakes of a teenager, Ayyad wrote: "I dreamed of so many things that I wanted to do, but we live in a country where it is impossible to fulfil your dreams."

"I am very glad that God has granted me martyrdom," read the letter. "Through it, I want my message to reach the whole world, 'to make the world wake it up', as said Ibrahim Nabulsi," Ayyad's letter added, quoting the leader of Nablus' Lions' Den group, who was killed by Israeli forces in July.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin, exchanging fire with Palestinian fighters. Israeli media confirmed that one Israeli soldier was injured during the raid.

The raid in Jenin comes one day after Israeli forces killed two young Palestinians in Kufr Dan, west of the city, while detonating the homes of the families of two Palestinians killed in September.

"In Jenin, we began the new year just as we ended the old one," Najat Abu Butmeh, director of the women and children centre in the Jenin refugee camp, said to The New Arab.

"More than 50 Palestinians were killed in Jenin in 2022, and no later than the second day of 2023, the killings continued, death continues," she pointed out.

"This Tuesday morning, the speakers of mosques began to warn residents that the occupation snipers were placed on high buildings around the camp, and it was at the exact time when children were heading to school," she described.

"The sense of tension in Jenin has not left, as everybody expects the next raid, especially when the occupation's drones fly over for three or four days in a row," she said.

Jenin / Qassam Muaddi
The Jenin refugee camp has been target to Israeli sniper fire and military raids on a weekly basis in recent months, claiming the lives of more than 50 Palestinians [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

"I knew many of the young people who were killed last year when they were children when they used to come to the centre," said Abu Butmeh. "Yesterday, I asked the children at the centre what they wished for the new year, and most of them said that they wish for a day when there are no martyrs to mourn."

Israeli forces ramped up raids on the occupied West Bank Palestinian cities, towns and refugee camps at the beginning of 2022, as Palestinian armed activism against Israeli occupation increased too.

The escalation claimed the lives of 225 Palestinians by the end of 2022. In October 2022, the UN said it was probably the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2005.