Thursday, June 20, 2024

Israeli soldiers kill 6 Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank

Israeli soldiers have killed at least five Palestinians during two raids in the occupied West Bank, and another Palestinian in a separate incident in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, and killed four Palestinians. Some 30 others were also wounded, according to Palestinian health officials.

The four killed were identified as Mahmoud Saadi, 23; Mahmoud Ararawi, 24; Raafat Khamayseh, 22; and Atta Mousa, 29.

Early Wednesday morning, Israeli forces raided the refugee camp of Aqabat Jabr in Jericho. A statement by the military said that troops opened fire toward a Palestinian who was throwing explosives at them.

The Palestinian health ministry identified the man as 19-year-old Dhargham al-Akhras.

In Gaza, the Palestinian man killed was identified as Yousef Salem Radwan, 25. He was shot by Israeli forces east of Khan Yunis in Gaza, reported Palestinian media.

The Israeli military did not confirm the Gaza killing, but claimed that “rioters” had gathered next to the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, and that “a number of explosive devices were activated by the rioters”. The military also gave few details about the deaths in the Jenin, apart from saying that it had carried out a drone attack.

The violence came after Israel announced late on Sunday that it would keep the Beit Hanoun (called “Erez” by Israel) crossing closed following an eruption of border protests and a “security assessment” by defence officials.

“The reopening of the crossing will be subject to ongoing evaluation based on the evolving situation in the region,” said COGAT, a unit of the Israeli defence ministry responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs.

The closure of Beit Hanoun, the sole pedestrian passageway out of the enclave into Israel, has left roughly 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza who have been issued Israeli work permits unable to access their jobs.

The string of protests came during a holiday season in Israel that began with the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year last week and continues through the Sukkot festival next week.

During the holidays, large numbers of Jews are expected to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, also known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City – in the past this has meant restrictions on Palestinian access to the holy site, which is also a Palestinian national symbol.

Gazan officials stated medical cases were still allowed to use the crossing, which Israel had been due to reopen Monday following a shutdown due to Jewish holidays.

The extended closure follows repeated confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces along the border over the past few days.

The confrontations have seen multiple Palestinians wounded after Israeli troops fired guns and tear gas at the protesters. The Israeli military also launched an air attack late Friday on the Gaza Strip.

The decision to block the entry to Israel was condemned as “illegal collective punishment” by the Israeli NGO Gisha, which advocates for Palestinians’ freedom of movement.

The move is “harming Gaza workers and their families, as well as other permit holders who need to travel for humanitarian needs”, Gisha announced in a statement.

Palestinians have far higher earning power in Israel than Gaza, where salaries are low and unemployment is rife.

Israel has maintained a strict land, air and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007, when Hamas seized power of the coastal enclave.

There have been multiple wars fought between Gaza-based armed groups and Israel in recent years.

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