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West Bank camp mourns Palestinians killed in Israeli raid

A funeral procession for 13 Palestinians killed in the Israeli army raid passed through roads piled with rubble
A funeral procession for 13 Palestinians killed in the Israeli army raid passed through roads piled with rubble - Copyright AFP Rodrigo BUENDIA
A funeral procession for 13 Palestinians killed in the Israeli army raid passed through roads piled with rubble - Copyright AFP Rodrigo BUENDIA
Laurie CHURCHMAN

Families kissed the faces of the dead and neighbours cried in the streets after one of the worst Israeli raids anyone in the Nur Shams refugee camp can remember.

On Sunday a funeral procession for 13 Palestinians killed in the army’s West Bank operation passed through roads piled with rubble from Israeli bulldozers and rocket fire.

Israeli forces carry out regular raids on towns and cities in the occupied West Bank, and violence has soared since the war in Gaza broke out last year. 

The Israeli army said it had killed ten militants in a three-day “counterterrorism” raid on Nur Shams. Residents in the camp gave a different account.

Niaz Zandeq, 40, said his son Jehad was shot dead by an Israeli soldier on his 15th birthday.

Neighbours said troops told Jehad to leave his uncle’s house then shot him as he stepped out of the front door with his hands up. 

They showed AFP images of his body in the street with a bullet wound to the forehead.

“The minute he came out, they opened fire hitting him directly in the head,” Zandeq said through tears. “He was unarmed.”

The Israeli army has not responded to residents’ allegations. 

– ‘Killed so many people’ –

Jehad was not the only young person among the dead. 

On Friday the Palestinian health ministry said 16-year-old Qais Fathi Nasrallah was killed by Israeli troops in the nearby Tulkarem refugee camp.

His father, a paramedic, was on shift at the hospital when staff brought his son’s body in, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Including Nasrallah, the organisation said the total number of dead in Tulkarem and Nur Shams stood at 14.

On Saturday the Israeli army said it had made eight arrests and seized weapons around Nur Shams, and that eight soldiers and a police officer were wounded. 

AFP saw armed militants in the camp and at the funeral, where they fired shots into the air.

Ibrahim Ghanim, a 20-year-old law student, said “anyone who fights back in the camp is called a terrorist.”

“Israeli soldiers have killed so many people here over the years I’ve lost count,” he said.

– ‘I was so scared’ –

As some residents began clearing debris and repairing their smashed homes, others remained in shock. 

Hamde Abdallah Sarhan, 85, said she was still shaken after soldiers broke into her home and shot at the wall, trying to open up a firing position while she lay terrified on the ground.

Sarhan suffers from a lung condition and uses a machine to help her breathe. She said the soldiers broke the machine when they burst in and she struggled for air until relatives found an emergency oxygen tank.

“I was so scared,” she said. “This violence was more than any I have seen.”

Nine-year-old Misk Al-Shaikh was upstairs in her home when Israeli bulldozers tore down the front of the building on Thursday night, she and her family told AFP. 

“I was frightened,” she said. “I wanted to hug my dad.”

“The Israeli army operation was to target civilian life,” her father Mostafa said. 

“They turned Nur Shams into a little Gaza.” 

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 and over 480 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops or settlers there since the start of the war in Gaza on October 7, according to Palestinian officials.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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