Posts Tagged ‘nablus’

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From Jail to Jail: Life of a Palestinian Mother

May 29, 2010

From Jail to Jail: Life of a Palestinian Mother:

photo by lazar simeonov

Omm Ahmad Khadeash is a mother and grandmother who has spent most of her life living in Balata Refugee Camp, near Nablus in the West Bank.  She is around 70 years old and has seen everything from the Nakba in 1948 to the brutality of the second Intifada. 

Omm Ahmad was born in a village called Ejzem, near Haifa.  Her village was expelled and destroyed by the Israeli military in 1948.  Her family fled to Huwarra, near Nablus, and then moved to the Balata Refugee Camp when it was created in the 1950’s.

Balata Refugee Camp is known for being very political, the heart of the resistance.  Many Fatah resistance leaders in the Intifada came from the camp.  For this reason, the Israeli military has been especially hard on the people of Balata.  Imposing curfews, conducting nightly raids of the camp in which they break down doors to the houses and destroy things inside, beat people—men and women, arrest, and sometimes kill people for being active in the resistance.    

Omm Ahmad married at 15 and has seven sons and five daughters.  Every one of her sons has been imprisoned.  She has never experienced a time where all of her sons were at home together. 

At the moment, she has six sons out of prison.  One was released two months ago and another, Khaled, is still in prison—with a sentence of over 1000 years for being one of the Fatah leaders in Balata.  He has four children, the youngest, Aboud, was born on the day his father was imprisoned.

Now Omm Ahmad takes care of Khaled’s wife and family—just as she has taken care of all of her sons’ families while they were imprisoned. 

Omm Ahmad is well-known in Balata for intervening when the Israeli soldiers raid the camp and try to arrest anyone.  She will run out and get in the middle of the fight; screaming, and saying “this is my son! This is my son!”—no matter who it is that they are trying to arrest.

She will “give the signal” to the other mothers around the camp and they will all run down and scream at the soldiers, and others will join in; screaming or throwing stones. 

One time, Omm Ahmad saw Israeli soldiers running after a young girl.  They caught her and started beating her. 

“I began screaming and brought all of my daughters with me to where the soldiers were.  Some other women heard us and joined us, screaming.  We created a big chaos and the soldiers left the girl.”

Another time, Omm Ahmad saw soldiers running after a teenage boy who was carrying a flag.  When he ran past her house she grabbed him and took him inside.  When the soldiers came to the door she blocked them from getting in, and started screaming.  Soon, other women started screaming and people began throwing stones. 

She had a real fight with the soldiers and even took a gun from one of them.  But because there was so much chaos around them from the screaming women and kids throwing stones, the soldiers decided it wasn’t worth it and left.

During the second Intifada, when the Israeli soldiers would impose a curfew on the camp for being active in the resistance, Omm Ahmad would ignore the curfew and take food and other supplies around to all her sons and daughters and their families. 

“It was dangerous, but I did not care”, said Omm Ahmad.

Omm Ahmad has spent most of her life traveling from one prison to another visiting her sons. 

“I have never had all of my sons at home at the same time.”

Her only son in prison now, Khaled, has a sentence of over 1000 years.  His only chance to be released from prison is if the prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel is successful.  Hamas, who is holding the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, is trying to reach an agreement with Israel.  In exchange for releasing Shalit, Hamas is asking Israel to release 450 Palestinian political prisoners—the prisoners who have consecutive life sentences—and Khaled is on that list. 

Omm Ahmad was only recently given permission to visit Khaled; once a month—before that she was not allowed to visit because she is known as a “trouble-maker” by the soldiers.  Khaled’s wife is only allowed to see her husband once or twice a year.

Visiting her sons in prison is like a “trip to hell”.  Khaled’s prison is in southern Israel, on the border with Egypt.  So when Omm Ahmad makes the trip to visit her son, she must get up before 3am and go to the special bus station in Nablus that has buses specifically for taking family members to different prisons.

The visitors must go through many checkpoints, getting rigorously searched at each one.  Another humiliating process they must go through before they can visit their family members is being stripped naked. 

The trip is exhausting, humiliating and takes an entire day.  After all of this, Omm Ahmad is allowed to see her son for less than an hour.

Recently, Omm Ahmad and all of the families of the prisoners on the exchange list received more bad news.  The talks between Hamas and the Israeli government failed, once again.   

Hamas requires that all of the prisoners are released to the West Bank or to Gaza.  But Israel has rejected some of the prisoners on the list and has also said that the only way they will release the remaining prisoners is by deporting them to other Arab countries.  Omm Ahmad is worried that Khaled may not be released while she is alive.

“They took our sons.  They took our land.  They stole it from us…they have this belief that this is their land and we should not be here.” 

These days, Omm Ahmad does not intervene when the soldiers come to the camp.  She says that the soldiers do not care whether they beat a child or an old woman anymore. There is nothing she can do to help, and she said she is losing faith that things will change.

“We have tried everything.  We tried the non violence in the 1st Intifada—just throwing stones.  In the 2nd Intifada we tried violence, with the guns.  It was very brutal.  Now we have tried the negotiations—the peace process.  Israel does not respond to anything.  Why must the Palestinians respect the agreements, but not Israel?  We have tried everything and each time we make a little progress but in the end we are always back at zero.”

And every time the Palestinians actively form a resistance, peaceful or violent, they always end up losing something in the end.  More Palestinians are expelled, more settlements, and the wall are built. 

“It’s too much”, says Omm Ahmad.  “The Palestinians are arguing with each other over power! For what? For a chair?  For a state that actually does not exist?  We are in a very difficult situation.”

“Release the prisoners, let our sons come home! Take Palestine, we don’t want it anymore.  We just want to live our lives—this is not life”, says Omm Ahmad.  “At the end it’s really not worth it.  I’m tired; I’ve spent most of my life going from jail to jail.  There was never a time when all of my sons were at home together.  It’s too much!”

As Omm Ahmad tells her story, she also makes sure to explain that this is not just her story.  This is the story of many other mothers in Palestine.  Boys are imprisoned for consecutive life sentences.  Their parents die, waiting for their children to be released from jail.

In the end, it sounds like Omm Ahmad has lost hope for a solution to her problem, or for Palestine.  But she says, “The hope remains, it is always there, like our faith in God.  But I am a human being, a woman, a mother.  I have a right to feel this way.  I have to take care of my grandchildren and the wives of my sons while they are in prison.  It’s too much.”

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Life in Area C…..

May 27, 2010

Oslo Accords and the Creation of “Area C”

After the 1993 Oslo Accords, the final status of the West Bank was deemed to be subject to “upcoming” agreements between Israeli and Palestinian leadership. In the meantime, the authority of the West Bank was divided between Israeli and Palestinian through the creation of three different types of “areas”—A, B, and C.

Area A, which makes up 17% of the land in the West Bank, and is home to 55% of West Bank Palestinians, was put under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B, 59% of the land and 41% of the Palestinians, was put under joint Israeli-Palestinian control—civil authority for the PA and security for the Israelis. Area C makes up 59% of the land and 4% of the Palestinians, is under full Israeli control. There are 150,000 Palestinians living in Area C and 400,000 Jewish settlers living in 120 official settlements and 100 illegal outposts.

Area C contains all of the Israeli settlements, settler roads, security buffer zones, strategic areas, and Israeli military bases and zones. The places in the West Bank that make up most of the Area C are the Jordan Valley, East Jerusalem, and the Judean desert.

While the majority of the Palestinian population lives in Area A and B, much of the land around these Palestinian built-up areas, villages, and cities is defined as Area C. Therefore, many Palestinian communities have lost farmland—vital to the economy of many villages, and the land that their communities would naturally expand into as the population increases. The Israeli military retains full control of the land, roads, water, airspace, security and borders for the land in Area C.

Ethnic Cleansing Via Bureaucracy

Life is made almost impossible for any Palestinians living in or near Area C because of the complex bureaucratic system the Israelis set up for that very reason. Palestinians in Area C need a permit from the Israelis in order to repair their own homes and infrastructure, to build new homes on their own land, to access water, and to access their own farmland. Needless to say, these permits are not given out in a timely manner, if at all.

The Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, especially the bedouin communities, have been facing the most intense Israeli policies aimed at cleansing the area of Palestinians so that Israel can take over full control of the resources there. Another Israeli aim in taking over the Jordan Valley (30%  of the West Bank territory) is to unilaterally establish an eastern border of the West Bank that would isolated it inside Israel–without any borders leading to other, more friendly countries.

Since 1967, Israel has been carrying out a “creeping” ethnic cleansing on the residents of the Jordan valley through its permit system and other policies–taking the Palestinian population down from 320,000 to only 56,000 today. 

One example of the irrationality of the permit system is in Jiftlik, a village in the Jordan Valley—which is almost entirely Area C. In Jiftlik, they have had to put electricity poles in concrete blocks which are placed above the ground instead of digging a hole for them because according to the Israelis, digging holes more than 40 cm in the ground is illegal.

Sometimes you will see corrugated tin roofs camouflaged with plastic covering because building a roof out of metal counts as “building a second storey” in the Israeli system. And of course, they would need an impossible-to-get permit for that.

“Breathing is the only thing we don’t need a permit for—yet!” Said Abed Kasab, one of the residents of the village.

Economic Damage in Area C

The economies of the villages and cities in or near Area C have been very negatively affected by the restrictions placed on them. It is the same for Palestinians living in communities near the Separation Wall—which has isolated them from other cities making economic trade and travel to access services such as health care almost impossible. By 2008, over 3,000 businesses were forced to close in the West Bank because of the Separation Wall’s construction through or near their communities.

Qalqilia and Tulkarem

In Qalqilia,  the Separation Wall has completely surrounded the city, leaving just one Israeli-controlled gate to allow any people and goods in or out. The isolation of Tulkarem due to settlement blocs and the Wall has also been significant. 37% of the West Bank agricultural land is found in the Jenin, Tulkarem, and Qalqilia governorates.

The damage done to the land in these areas by the Separation Wall is severe. At the beginning of its construction, 83,000 olive and other fruit trees, 615 dunams of irrigated land, 37 km of water networks, and 15 km of agricultural roads were destroyed systematically.

In addition, 238,350 dunams of land were isolated between the Green Line and the Separation wall, 57% of which was cultivated and is now almost inaccessible to the Palestinian farmers.  The worst effect of this land confiscation is poverty—by isolation and fragmentation.

 Nablus

Economically, Nablus has been under siege since the beginning of the Second Intifada. Huwwara checkpoint, just outside the city of Nablus, was the only way to get in or out of the city. This made trade and business almost impossible for years, strangling the economy.

To make matters worse, the Israeli military would arbitrarily close the checkpoint for different amounts of time—causing normal life to stop in Nablus. When Huwwara checkpoint is operating “normally” the line of cars waiting to leave or enter Nablus can be kilometers long, and the people must wait for hours.

Hebron

In Hebron, the Israeli settlers took over apartments right in the middle of the city. This area is now referred to as H2—and has caused extreme damage to the economy of Hebron because it is located in the central market of the city. Here, around 800 Jewish settlers live among 30,000 Palestinians.

The settlers’ presence has been slowly choking the economy of Hebron. The settlers are protected by the Israeli military—who have set up checkpoints throughout the marketplace to ensure the safety and freedom of movement for the settlers while denying both to the Palestinian residents.

More than half of the shops in the central marketplace have been forcibly shut down, or gone out of business due to the presence of settlers, military, and checkpoints in the market. Palestinian shop owners have to put chain link fencing above the alleyways outside their shops because the settlers, who have taken over the upstairs apartments, routinely throw garbage, glass bottles, and even sewage water down on the shops and people below.

Violent Effects of Settlements on Area C Palestinians

Hebron

The settlers in Hebron are the most violent in the West Bank, they systematically attack their Palestinian neighbors with complete impunity. Of course, they are allowed to carry automatic rifles and are protected by the IDF, so they can beat any Palestinian they want, or rip the veil off of any woman with no consequences.

South Hebron Hills

In the South Hebron hills, which are in the middle of Area C, the settlers constantly attack the Palestinian villagers. Sometimes they send dogs on the Palestinians, other times settlers wearing hoods or masks wait for the school children or shepherds to walk home where they stone them, beat them, or steal from them.

Recently, a 6 year old child who was grazing his sheep in an area isolated by the barrier near the settlement of Shani, was physically assaulted by a settler. Also, the settlers destroy olive and fruit trees as well as burning entire agricultural fields.

Nablus

Nablus is surrounded by settlements—which are built on the tops of the hills around the city. These settlers are constantly attacking the Palestinians in villages near settlements. Recently, West Bank settlers have been following a “Price Tag” policy in response to international pressure on Israel to freeze settlement construction and dismantle illegal outposts.

This policy requires that for every outpost or building in a settlement demolished, the settlers will organize an attack on neighboring Palestinian communities. This policy has been very obvious in the Nablus area.

Recently, Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement entered Huwwara village near Nablus and vandalized the municipal park—damaging the park lights, sound amplifiers, children’s toys, and olive trees near the park. They also threw stones at a nearby house, breaking several windows.

In addition, on May 4th, settlers set fire to a mosque in Lubban Al Sharqiyya—one day after the Israeli civil administration demolished 5 structures under construction in the settlement of Shave Shomron; a clear Price Tag policy attack. This was the 3rd act of vandalism targeting mosques reported in the northern West Bank since December 2009.

Salfeet

In Salfeet, a city which is surrounded by 17 settlements (built on land confiscated from the city and villages around it), the settlers prefer to send wild boars down on the Palestinians below. These wild boars are huge and very dangerous—in addition to destroying farmland and agriculture, they could also seriously injure or kill anyone who gets in their path.

Environmental Damage Caused by Settlements

What’s more, the surrounding settlements are causing a great deal of environmental damage in the West Bank. Israeli factories that are not within the standards of environmental and health protection of Israel move to the West Bank to bypass these regulations.

Near Salfeet, settlements and factories are causing major environmental damage. They dump chemical waste from factories onto Palestinian fields—which contaminates the produce. The settlers also drain their sewage water into nearby villages and land—causing severe health effects on the people.

Water War

Water availability is another complex issue in Area C. The wells in Area A & B are not completely under Palestinian control, and the ones located in Area C are not available at all to Palestinians. Israeli use of West Bank water is 7 times what the Palestinians use. Area C contains 280 out of 597 wells, and of these only 51 are owned by Israel.

Yet, somehow, Israel’s annual yield of water equates to over 66% of the total water yields in Area C. This is why the Israeli settlements have green grass in every yard, swimming pools, etc…while in Palestinians cities and villages, people can go weeks without water in their homes–especially now, during the summer.

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Samaritans…

April 29, 2010

Yesterday was the Samaritan Passover, and they had a large ritual burnt offering in honor of the holiday. The Samaritans are the same group that was mentioned in the Bible (The parable of the Good Samaritan)–they are a sect of Judaism, but are not considered the same as the Jews that live in Israel.

They live in an isolated community in the West Bank, on Mt. Gerezim outside of Nablus. The ancient temple and city ruins still exist on this hill, alongside the modern village. There numbers have been steadily decreasing due to assimilation and other factors, there are around 1000 of them left today living in the village. They have a problem now with children being born with defects because of the small size of their community, and the fact that they intermarry usually only within the community. They are considering importing 50 or so Ukrainian women into the community on the condition that they convert to the religion so that they can get some fresh genes into the gene-pool.

We went up to see the ritual yesterday night. On the way, we had to pass through Huwarra Checkpoint, the major checkpoint to get inside Nablus city in the West Bank. We had a Canadian Jewish guy in the car with us, he had come over to the Holy Land to study at a Yeshiva in a settlement in the Jordan Valley, but at the same time he is against the occupation and travels around the West Bank cities to experience the culture and meet the people–overall a very open minded guy for living temporarily in a settlement. Anyways, we got stopped at the checkpoint because we were in a yellow plated rental car (yellow plate is Israeli, white or green plates is for West Bank only).

 The soldier asked for our passports and saw the Canadians name and recognized that he was Jewish. Then the soldier said it was “illegal” for him to enter Palestinian cities (especially Area A –under PA control). He said he wasn’t Israeli and that we were coming from Ramallah (another Area A). The soldier then told him it was “too dangerous” for him to go into Nablus. My friend Julian met this guy in Jenin (one of the most hardcore Palestinian cities, and center of resistance) on his own and talking with a Palestinian guy….so the soldiers fears for his “Jewish brother” were unfounded and based on his experience as a Jewish SOLDIER in the West Bank.

After speaking with his commander, he wouldn’t let us through, so we had to park outside the checkpoint and go around a different way to get to the Samaritan village.

Their village looks like a Palestinian village, and it is right next to a Jewish settlement. The Samaritans are more Arab in tradition and culture than Israeli because they have always lived in Palestine (unlike most Israelis who moved here from countries all over the world–like Ethiopia, Russia, the US, etc…). They speak Arabic and look Arab.

For the ritual, they all dress in white. The women sometimes wear veils–but they are more like Islamic veils than Jewish ones. Some of the women wore long red robes over their white clothes. The men, who would be slaughtering the sheep for the offering, were dressed in white painting overalls and baseball caps. Some of the older men wore the more traditional square-shaped white or red hats.

Each family had to bring one sheep that they had kept with the family almost like a pet dog for an entire week before the slaughter. As we arrived, the men were dragging the sheep towards the sacrificial altars. It was a square with four huge fire pits that the men kept throwing large logs and braches of olive trees on. They gathered the sheep in one corner, and the kids were running around playing with and riding on the sheep. The sheep looked terrified.

I left before the actual slaughter. But my friends who saw it said that a man from each family grabbed the sheep from behind and slit their throats with a knife (presumably after the Rabbi had said a prayer–because it has to be Kosher…) and then the sheep were skinned and cleaned before they were thrown into the fire and buried so that they would cook. The meat was ready around midnight.

The crowd that came to watch was probably the most interesting part because it was such a mix: There were some of the 170 Muslims that live in the Samaritan village, settlers from nearby settlements, Israeli tourists and photographers, Palestinian press, international tourists and press…and of course Israeli soldiers everywhere with M-16s to “keep the peace”.

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Weekly Post: 4 Boys Killed in 24 Hours

March 21, 2010

 1,600 Illegal Settlement Housing Units Approved in East Jerusalem

 Well, this week has been especially violent. The Israeli provocations began with the announcement of the approval of 1,600 more housing units for illegal Jewish settlements on occupied territory around East Jerusalem. This announcement coincided with the visit of Vice President Biden of the U.S.—who was visiting the region in an attempt to restart the stalled indirect peace talks between Israel and Palestine—and is seen by many Americans as a slap in the face.

 Because of this announcement, and Netanyahu’s failure to call President Obama to tell him whether he would allow the plan to proceed, the Quartet meeting which was supposed to decide the next step in the peace process couldn’t accomplish anything. Works out well for Israel…

 Ibrihimi Mosque Takeover, Protests in Hebron and Beit Ummar

 The other provocation was the Israeli takeover of the Ibrihimi Mosque in Hebron—a site that has religious importance to both Judaism and Islam because it was built by Abraham/Ibrihim, a patriarch of both religions. Many Palestinians see this as the first step of the Israeli government’s takeover of more Muslim religious sites in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

 There have been violent protests in Hebron in response to the takeover. Most of them have been subdued by the Palestinian Authority—reinforcing the common belief that the PA is working with the Israeli military against their own people.

 Residents of Beit Ummar, a village near Hebron, have also organized protests against the Israeli policies. Dozens have been injured and arrested.

 Hurva Synagogue Reopened

 These fears were somewhat realized when the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem was opened last week. This synagogue is symbolic of the Jewish people returning Jerusalem to them as their “undivided, eternal capital.”

 There is also a prediction from the Vilna Gaon that the third time this synagogue is rebuilt, the Jewish people will start construction on the Third Temple—which would have to be built on the same place as the 1st and 2nd temples, meaning the place where Al Aqsa stands (the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam).

 The opening of the Hurva Synagogue was supposed to be followed by an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish march around the Temple Mount (Al Aqsa compound) which would culminate in them laying the cornerstone of the Third Temple—symbolizing the destruction of Al Aqsa and the coming of the Messiah.

 Luckily, the Israeli police decided that would be too much of a provocation considering how much protesting had already been going on around the Old City. It is still a planned event, but it is not sure when they will be able to do it.

  East Jerusalem Protests

 Because of these events, along with the closure of the Old City to any Palestinian men under the age of 50, there have been protests all over East Jerusalem (in the Old City, Shuafat Refugee Camp, Qalandia, Eisawiyya, and Wadi Joz) over the past week. So far, over 250 Palestinians have been arrested (many of them teenagers who were suspected of throwing stones). There have been almost 100 injuries.

 Shuafat Refugee Camp

 I went to the protest at Shuafat on Saturday. The Israeli soldiers closed off the entrance to the camp. In the early afternoon, young kids began throwing stones at the soldiers who had closed their camp.

 The Israeli soldiers shot teargas and rubber coated steel bullets at the children, ending with 11 injuries and 15 arrests.

 Qalandia Refugee Camp

 On Friday, I went to the Qalandia protests. There were hundreds of teenagers and young Palestinians out in the street leading to the checkpoint. They were throwing stones at the occupation soldiers.

 The soldiers were shooting a lot of teargas, at head level, like rockets shooting down the street. There were dozens injured who were protesting, none serious.

 Palestinian Man Beaten and Thrown off Balcony by Israeli soldiers

 There had been protests all week at Qalandia, and the Israeli soldiers had taken positions on top of an apartment building in order to be able to shoot the kids more efficiently. They invaded the home of 25 year old Abdullah Lafee on the third floor, and beat him while he was sitting in his home.

 After they had beaten him to the point that his face was split open, they threw him off the 3rd storey balcony. And didn’t stop there…

 They went to where he fell and beat him again. He is still alive, but nearly every bone in his body is broken and at least one organ is ruptured.

  Bil’in and Ni’lin

 Earlier this week, the Israeli military declared Bil’in and Ni’lin to be “closed military areas”. This means that no international or Israeli activists are allowed to be in the protest areas on Fridays—effectively stopping the nonviolent resistance movements there.

 At Bil’in on Friday, there were hardly any international or Israeli activists there. The few protestors that were there marched to the wall to find there were no Israeli soldiers. The protest ended soon after.

 In Ni’lin, the entire village was closed by the Israeli military, preventing any activists from reaching the demonstration. One Palestinian protestor was shot and injured, but is in stable condition.

 Nabe Saleh

 Because Ni’lin and Bil’in protests were prevented by the Israeli military, most of the international and Israeli activists went to Nabe Saleh instead. This Friday was one of the most violent protests so far in the village.

 10 village homes were attacked and invaded—reinforcing the Palestinian belief that Israelis don’t differentiate between protestor and civilian.

 25 protestors were shot indiscriminately by the Israeli military with teargas canisters and rubber coated steel bullets. Several American and Israeli activists were among those shot, and several were also arrested.

 A 14 year old Palestinian boy was shot and is not in a coma.

 An 82 year old woman was shot in the head with a teargas canister and has been brain damaged.

 4 Boys Dead in Nablus Area

 In Iraq Bourin, a village close to Nablus, 2 teenage boys were killed by the Israeli military while nonviolently protesting the theft of their land. One was shot in the heart with live ammunition and the other was shot in the head with live ammunition.

 Their funerals were held today, and were attended by thousands of Palestinians.

 Earlier today, 2 more teenage boys were killed while working in their fields outside of Awarta village near an Israeli checkpoint. They were approached by Israeli soldiers asking for their IDs, and then were shot in cold blood.

 The first IDF statement was that the boys attacked the soldiers with pitchforks. That statement was immediately denied by all the villagers. Later, the IDF spokesperson admitted that the boys had been working in the fields with farming tools and that the soldiers had gunned them down without being attacked.

A third boy was injured in the Israeli attack, and taken away by the soldiers. He was thought to be dead, but has just been returned alive—as the only Palestinian witness to what actually happened, the fact that he is alive and returned may be why the IDF changed their statement about the “attack” on the soldiers.

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Al Aqsa Brigades Vow Response After 3 Killed by Israel in Nablus

December 26, 2009

Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces stormed the Old City of Nablus in the early hours of Saturday morning raiding several homes and killing three men affiliated with Fatah’s military wing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Three youths were also killed in Gaza overnight.

“By this killing in Nablus and Gaza, the Israeli occupation has thrown open the doors of its own inferno,” an Al-Aqsa spokesman calling himself Abu Mahmoud said in a statement following the escalations overnight Friday.

Sources said two of the men were “killed in cold blood” by soldiers in their homes in the Old City. The two were identified as 38-year-old Raed Sakarji and Ghassan Abu Sharkh, whose brother Nayif was a former Al-Aqsa leader in Nablus and was killed by the Israeli army several years ago.

Nablus Deputy Governor Anan Al-Atira confirmed that Anan Subih, 33, was also killed [pictured above]. She said Subih was a former Al-Aqsa fighter who had received full amnesty from Israel after he turned in his weapons, signed a form swearing to renounce violence and spending months in Palestinian police protective custody while Israel okayed the deal.

Sakarji and Abu Sarkh were evacuated to the Rafidia Hospital with several bullet wounds each in the chest. Sakarji’s wife was also taken to hospital to be treated for shrapnel injury to her legs.

The Al-Aqsa spokesman said Israel’s actions would see their soldiers “only face fire and blood as bombers operate in Israel day and night. The Israelis will regret what they did because our retaliation will come very soon,” while a second statement from another branch of the group, the “Martyr Tamir Al-Khateib Brigades,” said, “Our attitude toward Jihad and resistance will not change, and the Israeli crime will not go unpunished.”

A statement from the Israeli military said soldiers “entered Nablus in an attempt to locate and arrest the men suspected of involvement in the murder of Meir Avshalom Hai this past Thursday.” A spokeswoman said the three slain “were responsible.”

An organization calling itself the Imad Mughniya Group and proclaiming affiliation to Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility in an email for the shooting.

“Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Group of the Martyr Imad Mughniya claim firing on a settler car in the north of the West Bank between the settlement Shave Shomron and Enab,” the message said.

In what was being billed as a response to the Thursday incident, Israeli forces imposed a curfew on the Ras Al-Ain neighborhood before dawn, closed off all the exits from the Old City and laid siege to the home of the Sakarji home.

Ghassan Hamdan, director of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees in Nablus, told Ma’an that three Palestinian homes were besieged in the raid. He confirmed that Sakarji was shot in the head and chest “before the very eyes of his wife.” A second man, Abu Sharkh, was removed from his home and shot outside, Hamdan said.

Sakarji’s niece, 20-year-old Hind, said “Israeli forces ransacked Raed Sakarji’s home and shot him in front of his pregnant wife and two children, when his wife Tahani, 30, tried to defend him, she was hit in the feet with shrapnel.” She also noted that her uncle had been released from Israeli jail in January 2009, and that he was on the waiting list for enrolement in the Palestinian Authority security services.

The home of Anan Subih in Ras El’ein was the third targeted location, where troops reportedly opened fire randomly on the building before entering.

According to the Israeli military, “When he was killed, Annan Tzubach [Subih] was armed with a handgun and hiding two M16 assault rifles, an additional handgun, and ammunition.” The same statement, however, said that “During an attempt to arrest him tonight [Saturday], Annan was killed after an exchange of fire with the IDF while he was found in a hiding place along with weapons and ammunition.”

Eyewitnesses described to Ma’an the siege launched on Ksheikiyya street in the Ras El’ein neighborhood where Anan Subih lived. Subih was an officer in the PA preventive security services in Nablus.

“Dozens of Israeli soldiers ransacked Anan’s home at 3:00am firing gunshots and grenades, causing a fire to break out in the next dor warehouse for plastic chairs. The soldiers [entered the building] demanding Anan, and when we told them he was at work with the security forces the soldiers evacuated all nine families who live in the building. We were gathered at the nearby home of the Al-‘Amoudi family,” Anan’s brother Nidal told Ma’an.

Witnesses added that Israeli forces did not allow Palestinian fire fighters to access the area and put out the blaze.

Jibreel Al-Bakri, governor of Nablus, described what happened in Nablus as a “crime in cold blood.” He accused the Israeli government of escalating the violence in Palestine in order to avoid its commitment to the peace process.

A spokesperson from the office of the Palestinian president echoed the statement, saying Israel had decided to drag the Palestinian people to violence in order to avoid international pressure for peace.

“The Israel Defense Forces will act firmly against those who aspire to harm citizens of the State of Israel and Israeli security forces, and will not rest until those involved in the murderous act are brought to justice,” Israeli Major General Avi Mizrachi said in a statement.

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