The Dallas Morning News
West Bank raid by Israel kills 5
Sleepy farm city of Jericho not normally source of violence
JERICHO, West Bank — Israeli security forces killed five Palestinians during an early morning raid Monday in the normally quiet city of Jericho, amid the worst violence in the West Bank in nearly two decades.
The Israeli army said two of the killed were captured on CCTV footage last month preparing to attack a Jewishrun restaurant on the main road outside Jericho with assault-style weapons and had been the target of an intensive manhunt. It described two of the dead as members of Hamas’s military wing.
Hours after the operation, blood remained on the walls of a small shed next to large villas across a highway from the Aqbat Jabar refugee camp, a densely populated urban slum that is home to 13,000 people. Young men from the camp burned tires in protest and set up barricades.
Israel confiscated the bodies of the five slain men, while the IDF reported no Israeli casualties. Soldiers have also erected checkpoints around Jericho, creating hours-long waiting lines as they search vehicles and check identification.
Israel in recent months has launched deadly raids of Palestinian cities and villages as part of its “Breaking the Wave” operation, launched in response to a spate of violence targeting Israelis by lone wolf attackers and newly emerging Palestinian armed groups, largely centered in the northern cities of Jenin and Nablus. These groups are typically small and are organized outside of the main Palestinian political parties.
It is unusual for militants to be from Jericho, a sleepy farm and tourist town known more for its bananas and archaeology. It is a stronghold of the largely unpopular Palestinian Authority.
Residents of Aqbat Jabar condemned Israel’s operations as collective punishment and said the violence would not end until the occupation of Palestinian land did.
“The occupation is the problem,” said Jamal Omar, chair of the committee charged with the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp administration. “All Palestinians are now afraid for their children.”
The spreading violence, analysts have warned, is the product of a combustible combination of a deep political void among Palestinians and the return of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads Israel’s most right-wing government to date.
Ayman Daraghmeh, a former Hamas parliamentary member, said the group in Jericho was “close to” but not organized or led by the extremist group.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said more violence would follow in response. “Our people and their resistance will not delay in responding to this crime,” he said.