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Traumatized and afraid, Jenin residents are still reeling from Israeli raid



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Jenin, West Financial institution

Mohammed Abu al-Hayja was sleeping alongside his spouse and two younger daughters final month when loud gunfire woke them up. Minutes later, Israeli troopers rammed down his door and burst via his condominium.

“They unfold via the home in seconds,” 29-year-old al-Hayja instructed CNN. “Two troopers got here as much as me, instructed me to stand up, one instructed me, ‘Depart your daughter along with her mom,’ after which he took me and cuffed my fingers behind my again.”

Al-Hayja’s traumatic run-in with Israeli safety forces occurred as they carried out what they described as a counterterrorism operation in the center of the Jenin refugee camp on January 26. The constructing they focused is just some meters from his residence.

“The safety forces operated to apprehend a terror squad belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror group,” the Israeli Protection Forces (IDF), the Israeli Safety Company and the Israel Border Police stated in a joint assertion, hours after the raid.

The remains of the building targeted by Israeli forces in Jenin, pictured on February 2, 2023.

Ten Palestinians had been killed in Jenin, together with an aged girl, in accordance with Palestinian officers. One other Palestinian was killed in what Israel Police known as a “violent disturbance” close to Jerusalem hours later, making it the deadliest day for Palestinians within the West Financial institution in over a 12 months, in accordance with CNN information. As violence spiraled within the area, no less than seven folks had been killed and three injured in a capturing close to a synagogue in Jerusalem a day later in accordance with Israeli police.

In Jenin, Al-Hayja recollects the occasions of January 26 clearly, explaining that after being handcuffed an Israeli soldier took him to the toilet and made him kneel down, earlier than wrapping a towel round his head.

Restrained, blindfolded and caught in his lavatory, al-Hayja then began listening to gunfire from inside his condominium. “I might hear it, and if I concentrated I might hear one of many troopers speaking to my spouse,” he says.

Al-Hayja says he was capable of persuade the troopers to let him go to his spouse. Nonetheless blindfolded, he crawled to his lounge, as bullets flew above him.

Israeli troopers had eliminated one in every of his couches and arrange a firing place by the window to supply cowl for his or her items partaking Palestinian gunmen close by. Utilizing flats like al-Hayja’s to supply cowl fireplace is “commonplace working process,” a spokesman for the Israeli army instructed CNN.

Mohammed Abu al-Hayja's house, seen from the outside.

Representatives of the United Nations company for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) visited Jenin within the days after the incident and spoke to al-Hayja and his household. “Their youngsters had been noticeably traumatized,” Adam Bouloukos, director of UNRWA Affairs within the West Financial institution instructed CNN. “This sort of invasion violates not solely worldwide legislation however widespread decency.”

As Israeli troopers fired, the Palestinian gunmen fired again, holes from their bullets dotting the household residence’s doorways and partitions. Al-Hayja confirmed CNN a bag of spent bullet casings he says the Israeli troopers left behind. “They fired a loopy variety of bullets,” he added.

Whereas they did, al-Hayja and his spouse lay on the ground clutching their younger daughters for greater than three hours. Their oldest daughter is 2-and-a-half, the youngest 18-months-old. “Actually, I assumed I had perhaps 1% likelihood of creating it out alive,” he stated.

Moments later an explosion rocked the condominium. He later discovered that Israeli troopers had mounted a second firing place in his bed room.

They sawed off the window bars and fired a rocket on the constructing the gunmen had been in, with scorch marks smudging al-Hayja’s ceiling.

“I stated to myself, we’re going to die,” he stated.

From atop al-Hayja’s constructing, the sprawling Jenin refugee camp spreads towards the horizon and up the hills. What had been as soon as short-term tents, is now a extra permanent-looking slum of sandstone homes, cobbled on prime of one another.

Down beneath, lies the constructing focused by Israeli troopers. The construction was so broken after the raid that native officers determined it was safer to bulldoze it down. On the rubble, folks have positioned banners with the faces of a few of these killed – “martyrs,” they learn – and a lone Palestinian flag.

Abdel-Rahman Macharqa, a paramedic in Jenin, told CNN that he unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate one of the victims on January 26.

Whereas this operation was one of many deadliest in years, for residents right here, such Israeli incursions happen all too typically. Posters remembering different folks killed in confrontations with Israeli safety forces over time line partitions throughout the neighborhood.

The IDF says these raids are focused, geared toward terrorists, and that they open fireplace when these they’re looking for fireplace at them.

However folks in Jenin see it in a different way. “The Israelis raid the camp they usually fireplace at something that strikes,” paramedic Abdel-Rahman Macharqa instructed CNN.

The 31-year-old has seen a number of gun battles in Jenin and says the state of affairs is turning into more and more riskier, even for many who save lives, like him.

“They [Israeli soldiers] have fired at me 5 occasions,” Macharqa stated. “We don’t really feel secure, even in uniform.”

Bullet holes from the incident mark the walls in the neighborhood.

An elderly lady walks near the scene of the raid.

“Once we say goodbye to our wives and kids to come back to work, we all know we might grow to be martyrs,” he added.

Macharqa witnessed a part of the raid in Jenin because it unfolded on January 26. The paramedic tried to assist one of many three civilians whom Israeli officers say had been killed there, together with seven gunmen.

“They opened fired on him and he was hit thrice,” he recalled. Macharqa stated he pulled the person away and tried to resuscitate him, however he died.

“We should stay,” Macharqa stated. He feels pissed off, not simply by Israeli actions, but in addition what he sees because the passive angle and double requirements of the worldwide group.

“Israelis declare he’s a terrorist, however Ukrainians, after they defend themselves from the Russian invasion is that terrorism?,” he requested.

On the day of the raid, Ziad Miri’ee peaked out of his door after he heard gunfire. He noticed an Israeli soldier firing via his automotive to hit a younger man from his neighborhood.

“Our neighbors over there tried to drag him out (of the road),” he stated. “The child died.”

Miri’ee, 63, says he was one of many Jenin camp’s oldest residents, however he additionally believes the state of affairs has been getting worse.

“In 2002, after they raided the camp and bulldozed the homes it was a lot simpler than the three-and-a-half hours of final week’s raid,” he stated. On the time, in the course of the second intifada, Israeli forces occupied the camp, destroying round 400 houses.

“2002 was a toddler play in comparison with the incident right here final week. We couldn’t step a meter outdoors the home as a result of the bullets had been coming in,” he stated.

Ziad Miri'ee was one of the Jenin camp's first residents.

A child plays by a window, next to the building that was destroyed.

Miri’ee believes the state of affairs is certain to get even worse, as frustration with the occupation grows, the dearth of future on the horizon is driving increasingly younger folks to hitch the ranks of militant organizations such because the Islamic Jihad.

“Sure, there’s extra [fighters] from this era,” he says. “This era was born into the conflict.”

Upstairs from Miri’ee, al-Hayja continues to be shaken by the traumatic expertise. Inside his residence there’s no room for bravado, simply concern over the security of his daughters.

“I don’t intervene or get entangled in these items, I simply go from my work to my home and all of it landed on my head,” he stated. “You’re in your metropolis and you aren’t secure, you’re in your own home and you aren’t secure.”

“You aren’t secure from this occupier who occupies your land” he added. “You aren’t secure in any respect.”