Amid Tel Aviv’s massive bombing campaign against the densely populated, besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli forces and illegal settlers have been on a rampage of violence, terror, torture, and murder throughout the occupied West Bank.
On October 7, Hamas carried out a surprise attack against southern Israel and the war against the people of Gaza was launched. Since then, Israeli gunfire in the West Bank has killed at least 75 Palestinians – including roughly 20 children – while over 1,300 have been wounded.
Middle East Eye reported that, per Palestinian medical sources, Israel’s apartheid army is shooting young Palestinian men largely in the upper body, with gunshots primarily to the head, chest, and neck.
Many have been shot in the knee, with the aim of permanent crippling as Israeli forces reportedly continue their practice of targeting civilians with the banned, explosive “butterfly bullets.” These rounds pulverize tissue, arteries and bone after exploding on impact, leaving victims with acute internal injuries.
On Thursday, Israeli occupation forces stormed the Nur Shams refugee camp, near the northern city of Tulkarem, and clashed with armed Palestinians.
Journalist Sami Al-Saei from Tulkarm told Middle East Eye “the attack included raiding a large number of homes, smashing windows and doors, assaulting residents, and arresting some of them and using them as human shields in the face of clashes with the resistance fighters.” Al-Saei also said snipers were deployed on rooftops and were firing at the Palestinians on the ground fighting large numbers of Israeli army soldiers.
Video posted on X, formerly Twitter, by Israel’s army showed a drone firing at Palestinian men at the camp mosque’s entrance. The occupying forces killed least seven Palestinians and wounded another 25, 17 with live fire, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
The Israeli forces claimed that “10 border police officers were injured, one of them seriously” during their aggression against the camp, it was later reported that an IED blast killed one occupying soldier.
Settler attacks against Palestinians have drastically increased as well, according to the Applied Research Institute, also known as Arij, with the group documenting a 40% surge since the war began. Israel has locked down the West Bank amid the war in Gaza.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Ramallah, said “the whole place is on lockdown and it’s a blockade, it’s effectively a blockade and that’s worrying Palestinians because there was a blockade imposed on Gaza. And they’re looking at pictures from Gaza right now and wondering if this temporary blockade… actually is a precursor to something much more permanent.”
The Israeli forces’ lockdown has consisted of closing checkpoints, erecting new obstructions, as well as fortifying entrances to villages and towns. Under the new status quo, Israeli settlers have been freely attacking people, homes, and businesses.
Last week, in the village of Qusra located near the northern city of Nablus, a Palestinian man was murdered along with his son after settlers and soldiers opened fire on a funeral held for four other Palestinians who had just been killed by settlers. Ibrahim Wadi and his son Ahmad were shot and killed after they confronted settlers in the street that had blocked the funeral procession with car tires.
In the last two weeks, nearly 900 Palestinians have been rounded up and detained with many suffering home invasions, torture, sexual violence, and beatings at the hands of settlers alongside Israeli occupation forces.
Amani al-Sarahna, the spokeswoman for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club Association, described the rapid rise in detentions as “frightening,” citing daily targeting of activists, lawmakers, and former prisoners as well as their families. She warns that the NGO is having difficulty documenting all the arrests, in full detail, as they are occurring at a breakneck pace and volume.
“In every arrest raid at a home, Israeli soldiers deliberately destroy furniture and confiscate some of the contents under the pretext of inspection,” al-Sarahna explained. She added that 80 percent of these detainees have been beaten and abused during arrests, only then to endure inhumane conditions such as being blindfolded and handcuffed over long periods.
Two employees of the Palestinian Authority were detained last Thursday by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Wadi al-Siq. They told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz they were held for hours by 20 or 25 settlers and soldiers, stripped to their underwear, taken to an empty building, beaten with on the head with pipes, urinated on, burned with cigarettes, and forced to lay in dirt and excrement. Additionally, their property including a car and some cash was stolen.
A photo of the two badly bruised detainees, Abu Hassan and Mohammed Khaled, along with another Palestinian captive, was uploaded to Facebook before being deleted. A group of Israeli left-wing activists in the area were also held for hours and attacked by the same forces, the Israeli army’s Desert Frontier unit which has recruited members of the extremist Hilltop Youth settler group. An investigation into this incident was opened and one commander was subsequently dismissed, an Israeli army spokesman told Haaretz.
As Israel readies for a ground invasion in Gaza, over 4,200 Palestinians, including more than 1,500 children, have been killed and 13,162 others have been wounded or injured. For well over a week, the coastal enclave packed with 2.3 million people, half of which are children, has been cut off from food, fuel, water, and electricity. When Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced the order for a “complete siege,” he said “[Israel] is fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.”
Protests against the war have erupted across the West Bank, several Palestinians including teenagers have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers during the demonstrations.These incidents are likely to escalate further as the virulently racist, Jewish supremacist, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced last week that Tel Aviv would purchase and distribute 10,000 assault rifles to Israeli citizens including within the West Bank’s illegal settlements, or Jewish-only colonies.
Prior to this unprecedented air campaign against the civilians locked up in the Gaza concentration camp, 2023 had already been one of the deadliest years for Palestinians especially in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Before October, more than 220 Palestinians had already been killed by Israeli forces, including over three dozen children. That figure included 187 people who were murdered in the occupied territories and another 37 killed in the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power last December, backed by a coalition full of extremist settlers bent on annexing the entire West Bank, Israel has been greatly destabilizing the region including by massacring refugees in Jenin, carrying out drone strikes in Iran, launching myriad airstrikes in Syria, and bombing Lebanon.