‘Unparalleled’: Israeli army raids Ramallah, more occupied West Bank cities

5 months ago 120

Israeli forces also ‘seize $2.5m’ from money exchange shops in largest operations in area since October.

Published On 28 Dec 2023

Israeli forces have launched their most intense raids yet on cities in the occupied West Bank as they pressed on with one of the largest incursions in the territory since Israel’s war on Gaza began in October.

At least one person was killed after Israeli troops launched a coordinated overnight assault on 10 cities including Hebron, Halhul, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, el-Bireh, Jericho and notably the centre of Ramallah, which is the administrative headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.

The raids, which continued until early on Thursday morning, targeted Palestinian money exchange outlets, Al Jazeera’s reporters on the ground said.

“This was a raid like we haven’t seen in the centre of Ramallah, like no other. Since October 7 we haven’t seen a raid of this size,” Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan said, reporting from near the scene on Thursday.

He said the “unparalleled” raid began at 1am on Thursday (23:00 GMT Wednesday) and lasted for about four hours, with “at least 20 vehicles” entering Ramallah.

Israeli forces used tear gas and stun grenades to clear a street and then blocked off the area, before using a “controlled explosion” to enter a money exchange shop. The soldiers seized documents and arrested business owners.

“The Israelis say [the shops] have been used by the resistance movements to finance their activities,” Khan said, adding that about three money exchange shops were raided in Ramallah and a few more in other cities.

“In total, they actually seized about $2.5m in those raids,” according to our correspondent.

At the same time, fierce clashes broke out in al-Manara Square in the centre of Ramallah. One person was shot and killed and at least 15 others were injured during confrontations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians.

“We treated and transported four injured Palestinians who were shot in the chest, shoulder, leg and sensitive areas with .223 calibre rounds,” Majd Omar, a paramedic with the Palestinian Life Society in Ramallah, told Al Jazeera.

He said they were able to get some of the injured to the hospital while others were transported by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

PRCS said one Palestinian was injured after being shot by Israeli forces in Nablus city. Nine people were injured in a separate raid on Halhul city, where two people were detained, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

‘Deliberately provoking Palestinians’

Although Israeli raids are not unusual in the occupied West Bank, their scale, frequency and intensity have increased in recent weeks.

Rami Khouri, a distinguished fellow at the American University of Beirut, told Al Jazeera the raids were confirmation that the Israelis are moving to prevent the occupied West Bank from erupting in confrontation against Israel amid the war in Gaza.

“They don’t want the West Bank to emerge now as the next [front],” he said, adding that the raids are trying to end Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank.

According to Mouin Rabbani, a Middle East analyst, the escalation of violence in the occupied West Bank is part of an agenda of some Israeli officials “to permanently consolidate” Israel’s rule over the Palestinian territory.

“They are out to deliberately provoke the Palestinians to seek to create as much conflict as possible,” he told Al Jazeera. “They are even out to provoke the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, because in their view, should they become involved in a conflict, that would then give Israel a pretext to simply eliminate the Palestinian Authority altogether.”

Violence across the West Bank has flared since Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip began on October 7. In that time, more than 300 people have been killed in raids there and nearly 4,800 Palestinians have been arrested.

In the Gaza Strip, more than 21,000 people have been killed and at least 55,000 wounded in Israeli attacks since October 7.

INTERACTIVE-LIVE-TRACKER-GAZA 1080 x1080 (2)-1703743262(Al Jazeera)
Read Entire Article