West Bank demands revenge for four Palestinians shot dead by Israel: “They came to kill them” | International

West Bank demands revenge for four Palestinians shot dead by
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Violence brings more violence. And in the Arab-Israeli conflict, even more so. The streets of Tulkarem (in the occupied West Bank), the scene of a massive burial amidst gunfire in the air, have cried out for revenge this Tuesday after the death, the day before, of four Palestinians gunned down in a car by Israeli forces in full force. daylight and in front of the neighbors. The uniformed men had arrived aboard a van covertly to that town, with about 80,000 inhabitants. A handful of red plastic flowers, traces of blood, glass and a dented street lamp, where the vehicle transporting them crashed and was stopped by bullets, mark Mohammad Ibn Al Qassem Street, the exact place of their death.

“They came to kill them, not to arrest them,” says Mehdi, 33 years old and one of the witnesses to what happened consulted by EL PAÍS. He resides in the house in front of which the events took place. The video was recorded from one of its windows, which spread like wildfire on social networks, where the agents appear finishing off at close range the four men who were inside the car, which ended with dozens of impacts. They estimate that the operation did not last more than five minutes. Afterwards, the attackers disappeared and within 10 minutes the ambulances arrived, they say.

The Israeli Security Forces have multiplied operations in the West Bank in parallel to the war with Hamas in Gaza. Since this began a month ago, more than 150 Palestinians have died in that territory, according to the Ministry of Health of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Additionally, more than 2,200 have been detained, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society. The four killed in Tulkarem were part of a “terrorist” cell run by Hamas from the Strip and abroad, and responsible for carrying out “dozens of gun attacks and planning additional attacks,” according to an army statement. the police and the Shin Bet (internal security service).

Although they look at each other with smiles, none of the inhabitants of the house in front of which the deadly attack took place acknowledges being the author of the famous recording. "Come on, let's go. Work, work,” you can hear in the video shouting in Hebrew to the half dozen uniformed officers who approach the vehicle and open the doors while they dare to continue shooting to make sure that they are all dead.

Their names are Jihad Shihada, Ezzeddine Awad, Qasim Rajab and Momen Bal'awi, according to the official Palestinian agency Wafa. For the Palestinian press they are “martyrs” to the cause. Israeli authorities point to Shihada and Awad as the highest-ranking. Hours after the operation, the Israeli army carried out a raid on the Tulkarem refugee camp, where the group was based, according to Israeli authorities. Neighbors say that the troops remained between two and six in the morning on Tuesday. Early in the morning, there are streets completely lifted by the action of bulldozers, vehicles destroyed and some houses attacked, such as that of Islam Banna, 25, who was hit by a projectile at the height of the third floor.

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Another of the houses affected by the military operation is that of Ezzedinne Awad, 27, one of the four killed on Monday. Her father, Riad Awad, 52, receives condolences, sitting with other relatives on plastic chairs lined up in front of the house. Meanwhile, several neighbors are carrying debris that they take out of a truck. “The occupation forces that murdered my son came at night,” says the father, while adding that his wife was wounded in the face. “They broke down the doors and went up to our room. “They took us all out onto the streets,” he adds. When asked about his son, Riad Awad comments that he was part of the “resistance” and that “he had been—in the past—a member of the Qassam Brigades,” the armed wing of Hamas.

“We are going to kill your son,” Awad claims Israeli authorities told him last August. Since then, the secret services had called him several times, threatening him and assuring that they were going to kill him, he details. This Monday, “they came to kill him, not to arrest him,” he concludes. “I think he was from Hamas,” says his uncle, Nabil Awad, 49, who occupies another of the chairs on the street, which has enormous damage after the military operation.

“Religious, calm and adorable”

In the midst of so much premonition, no one sheds a tear. Ezzedinne Awad had never been to prison, according to his father, and he was “very religious, calm and adorable.” “His dream was to make a life for himself, but it was impossible due to the occupation,” the father defends. In front of the Awad house and along the entire street, several trucks and excavators are trying to clean up the refugee camp so that the massive funeral can take place.

At ten in the morning, a procession dominated by the rage of several thousand men, dozens of them armed and shooting at the sky, leaves the hospital with the four corpses on stretchers on their shoulders. They head towards the refugee camp at a brisk pace, continuing to shout loud proclamations and intoning the omnipresent “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.”

Along the way, under a beating sun, some young people are brushing the flies off the faces of the deceased, who have wounds, bruises and bullet holes. There are neighbors who wear capes, headbands or green flags of Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs Gaza and whose armed wing left 1,400 dead in an attack never seen before against Israel on October 7 and triggering the current war. There are also some yellow banners of Fatah, the secular party that dominates the Palestinian National Authority, which controls the West Bank. Some of the slogans revolve around the need for unity of the different Palestinian factions.

A funeral procession as massive as the one this Tuesday in Tulkarem turns a Palestinian refugee camp into a true sanctuary for the cause, the perfect breeding ground for new combatants to emerge in the face of the suffocating Israeli occupation. Dozens of children of all ages accompany their elders and shout with them in the midst of a bath of rifles, hooded men, tears, hatred, violence and pain.

They parade through streets full of protest graffiti and with the faces of the dead from all these years visible everywhere. The bodies are taken to their homes, where the women, almost absent from the procession, say goodbye to them. After midday prayer at the mosque, they continue towards the cemetery. There they are deposited in the same grave, separated by gray bricks. As tradition dictates, without a coffin. A man encourages the masses through the public address system. He is the father of one of the four executed by Israel. “There will soon be revenge!” He assures.

Violence brings more violence. And in the Arab-Israeli conflict, even more so. Armed Palestinians during the funeral.
Violence brings more violence. And in the Arab-Israeli conflict, even more so. Armed Palestinians during the funeral.Alvaro Garcia

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