Five Palestinians injured in raid on Damascus Gate attackers’ hometown

Published February 4th, 2016 - 11:00 GMT
Palestinian women react after a scuffle with Israeli border police following an attack by three Palestinian assailants at Damascus Gate, a main entrance to Jerusalem's Old City on February 3, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Palestinian women react after a scuffle with Israeli border police following an attack by three Palestinian assailants at Damascus Gate, a main entrance to Jerusalem's Old City on February 3, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Israeli forces stormed the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin's Qabatiya village, the home of three Palestinian youth who were shot dead Wednesday after killing one 19-year-old Israeli police officer and seriously injuring another, a PLO spokesman told Ma'an.

Ali Zakarneh said during the raid, Israeli forces shot and injured four youth with live bullets, one of whom is in critical condition after being shot in the head.

The spokesperson added that Israeli forces also ran over a 15-year-old boy, identified as Mujahed Zakarneh, with a military jeep. The 15-year-old is also in critical condition.

The five youth were all evacuated to a nearby hospital for treatment, Zakarneh said.

Israeli forces also raided the family homes of the three youth who committed the attack and notified them that their homes would be demolished, requesting they evacuate their belongings in preparation for the demolition.

An Israeli army spokesperson said "in accordance with the government's directives, forces entered the village in order to asses the localities of the residences' of the three assailants who killed a border police officer in Jerusalem (on Wednesday)."

Zakarneh said Israeli forces announced during the raid that Qabatiya had been designated a closed military zone, and will remain a closed zone for at least a month. Forces closed all of entrances to the village with dirt mounds, completely preventing passage in or out of the village.

The Israeli spokesperson said "security measures have been taken in the village in accordance with situation assessments, which means entrances and exits are closed with exception of humanitarian cases."

During a 2007 census, Qabatiya was documented as having 20,198 residents.

At least ten Palestinians were detained during the raid, as well as two others outside of the village.

Of the ten who were detained in Qabatiya, seven were identified as: Mutasem Mahmoud Suleiman, 17, Mumen Nasri Abu al-Rub, 22, Ahmad Bilal Abd al-Afu Nazzal, 17, Sari Muhammad Abu Ghrab, Ahmad Rashed Abd al-Jalil, as well as one of the attackers' father, Ahmad Hilmi Kamil and brother, Tareq Ahmad Hilmi Kamil .

In addition to the ten, Israeli forces also detained Ahmad Ali Ahmad Zakarneh, a Qabatiya resident who was detained trying to cross into Jordan at Allenby bridge and a secretary of the Fatah movement, Hussam Izzat Nayif Dhun, 38, from the nearby village of Fandaqumiya.

An Israeli army spokesperson only confirmed five detentions in the village.

The three Palestinians who were shot dead after attacking two Israeli police officers on Wednesday were identified as Ahmad Rajeh Ismail Zakarneh, Muhammad Ahmad Hilmi Kamil, and Najeh Ibrahim Abu al-Rub.

The three youths had attracted the attention of Israeli Border Police officers as they approached Damascus Gate, police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said at the time.

She said they were stopped by the officers, and as one showed their identification card, another pulled out a gun and opened fire. Two female Border Police officers were wounded and evacuated for medical treatment.

One of them, 19-year-old Hadar Cohen, was shot in her head and later pronounced dead at Hadassah Hospital.

A spokesperson for the hospital said that the other police officer, 18 years old, was in moderate condition, having received stab wounds across her body.

Explosive devices were later found near the site, which was cordoned off following the attack, Rosenfeld said, adding that Israeli forces carried out a controlled explosion of the devices.

Israeli media reported that two of the three were barred from entrance into Israel and that all three had crossed over illegally. Israeli media reports also said none of the three Palestinians were affiliated with any political organization.

A Palestinian Authority police officer was shot dead earlier this week after he opened fire on Israeli soldiers stationed at an Israeli military checkpoint near the Beit El settlement north of Ramallah in the West Bank.

The attack came shortly after a 17-year-old Israeli was stabbed and injured in Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday. Israeli police reported that a 16-year-old Palestinian from an East Jerusalem neighborhood later turned himself in claiming responsibility for the attack.

A wave of attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals on Israeli military and civilians first began in occupied East Jerusalem in October before later spreading to the West Bank.

Efforts by actors in the international community to quell recent violence and return Israeli and Palestinian leadership to negotiations have so far failed.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon meanwhile last month criticized Israeli policy, saying that it was "human nature" for Palestinians to react violently to Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation.

Ban condemned the series of violent attacks carried out by Palestinians in recent months, but said that Israeli security measures were failing to "address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians -- especially young people."

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