JERICHO: The Zionist entity said its forces killed on Monday five Palestinians in a raid in the occupied West Bank near Jericho. Hamas confirmed its fighters were among the dead, saying in a statement the Gaza-based group was mourning members of its military wing killed “in an armed clash with the Zionist occupation”.
The early morning Zionist raid came amid a spike in Zionist-Palestinian violence and after days of what Jericho authorities have described as a “siege” on the city since a shooting attack late last month. A Zionist security official, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, told AFP the army was holding the bodies of the Palestinian dead.
The army said in a statement “a number” of armed men were killed in a gunfight during the raid on the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp at the entrance to the city, which lies close to the Jordanian border. It reported no casualties among the Zionist forces. An AFP photographer saw bullet holes covering the metal door of a wooden hut in the camp, while blood soaked into the floor inside.
Young Palestinians set tyres ablaze to block a road leading into Jericho, while shops and schools were shut as residents observed a general strike after the raid. The Palestinian health ministry said one person remained in critical condition after being shot in the head by Zionist forces. The ministry identified the five men killed and said they were aged between 21 and 28. Violence is rare in Jericho, a popular destination for tourists who are drawn to the ancient city’s religious and cultural sites.
An AFP correspondent last week reported hours-long queues as cars backed up at the entrances to Jericho. Jericho governor Jihad Abu al-Assal said the situation amounted to a “siege” which was “incurring huge costs” to local businesses, agriculture and the tourism industry. Wael Oweidat, who claimed his son was one of the two shooting suspects, said “even if they (Palestinian gunmen) did it, this should not lead to this crime.”
He said Palestinians were justified to oppose the Zionist occupation. “You take my land, my honor and my house, you kill my sons and my daughters and women, and you want me to sit still?” the 50-year-old told AFP. Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called Monday’s deadly raid a “major crime” and a “flagrant violation of international law”.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh described those killed as “heroes” who “fought until they were martyred defending their land and their holy sites”. “The successive killings by the enemy in the West Bank will be disastrous for them,” he said in a statement. – AFP