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WB's Zaatara braces after shooting near Israeli checkpoint

'They were workers, none were religious': West Bank's Zaatara braces after attack near Israeli military checkpoint
3 min read
West Bank
22 February, 2024
The attack came as Israel continues raids and arrests across the West Bank and blocks entrance to Jerusalem for Palestinians ahead of Ramadan.
Israeli forces launched a search campaign in Palestinian towns east of Jerusalem following the attack. [Getty]

At least one Israeli was killed and 11 wounded in a shooting attack near an Israeli military checkpoint east of Jerusalem, Israeli forces announced on Thursday. Israeli forces also killed three Palestinians at the location.

Early on Thursday, Israeli media reported that three Palestinians opened fire on a highway near the Israeli military's Zaayem checkpoint east of Jerusalem, killing at least one Israeli and wounding eleven. Israeli forces killed at least two, with the third reportedly arrested. 

The three Palestinians were brothers Mohammad and Kazem Zawahra, 26 and 31 years old, and Ahmed Hawash, 31 years old. They were from the village of Zaatara, south of Nablus.

"The three men come from working-class families, none of them was religious, and Kazem was married and father to several children", a resident of Zaatara who asked not to be named, told The New Arab.

"They were all workers in Israel, but since 7 October, the occupation revoked their working permits, like thousands of workers, and since then, they have been without work or income", they said.

"The occupation forces have blocked the entrances to Zaatara since the morning, and they are grouping troops", the source added. "The population are now bracing for a possible raid into the town, especially the families of the killed".

Israeli forces closed the Zaayem checkpoint in both directions, interrupting movement between Palestinian towns east of Jerusalem. Palestinian local sources said the Israeli forces raided the neighbouring Palestinian towns of Zaayem, Isawiyah and Anata.

The shooting at Zaayem occurred four days after the Israeli government decided to ban Palestinians from the West Bank from entering Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan, beginning in mid-March.

The decision complies with the demands by far-right, fundamentalist security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and contrary to the recommendations of the Israeli army and intelligence, who pushed for 'easing' restrictive measures to avoid an all-out uprising in the occupied West Bank during the Muslim holy month.

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The Israeli army and intelligence also recommended allowing 100,000 Palestinian workers to enter Israel during Ramadan, which Israeli far-right members of the government coalition also rejected.

Israeli forces have been tightening up control in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, increasing and closing checkpoints, blocking roads for Palestinians, and arresting some 7,000 Palestinians.

With the three Palestinians killed on Thursday, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since 7 October has risen to 404.