Home » Palestinians in Tulkarem describe the ‘most violent’ Israeli raid in years – breaking news

Palestinians in Tulkarem describe the ‘most violent’ Israeli raid in years – breaking news

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Palestinians in Tulkarem describe the ‘most violent’ Israeli raid in years – breaking news

“Unprecedented terror” continues to haunt Palestinians in the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem, two days after the Israeli army concluded its 52-hour-long invasion of the camp, in which it killed 14 Palestinians, nine of whom at least were unarmed civilians, according to residents.

On Thursday night, April 18, the Israeli army announced that it had launched “a large operation” in Nur Shams, the two-square-kilometer camp adjacent to the city of Tulkarem, in the northwest of the occupied West Bank. The invasion was to target the ‘Tulkarem Brigade’, which has operated in the camp since 2022.

“This isn’t the first time that the occupation has raided Nur Shams, but this time it was different because the occupation forces used unprecedented violence during the raid,” Baraa al-Ghoul, a resident of Nur Shams, told breaking news. “In previous raids, if an armored vehicle reached a dead-end in the camp’s alleys, it made a U-turn and looked for a different way through. This time they just demolished whatever they found in front of them,” he said.

“Raiding soldiers approached the houses which they suspected to be hiding resistance fighters, and the first thing they did was to fire a shell through the windows and doors, even if there were civilians inside, and without being sure if there were fighters,” al-Ghoul described. “The entire camp was locked indoors, expecting a missile to pierce into the house at any moment. My children were terrorized, understanding what was happening outside, crying all the time,” he said.

“Soldiers entered homes searching for fighters, and they arrested men randomly. My neighbor, Rajai Sweilem, 39, was arrested in his home in front of his four children and taken out to the streets,” recalled al-Ghoul. “After the withdrawal of the occupation army, he was found lying dead with his body full of bullets. He was only a working man, nothing else.”

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In addition to those killed by Israeli forces, two elderly men died during the raid because of health conditions, unable to reach a health center.

“Nasr Ghreifi, a known and respected man in the community in his early seventies had an appointment for a dialysis session at the hospital,” Hussein Ali, another resident, told breaking news.

“He couldn’t leave his home because of the raid, and his condition deteriorated even more because of the hot weather amidst the complete cut of electricity,” noted Ali. “He died in his house, and his body remained between his family members for two days until the occupation withdrew,” he added.

The aftermath of an Israeli raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp, located near the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, on April 21, 2024. The Israeli army dug up the roads in the camp, damaging infrastructure and Palestinian property. (Photo: Mohammed Nasser/APA Images)

Destroyed infrastructure

Following the Israeli army’s withdrawal, local media reported an extensive destruction of the camp’s infrastructure, including bulldozed streets and partially or entirely demolished homes. Basic services were also cut off due to infrastructure damage.

“All the streets of the camp were paved before the occupation began to raid it,” said al-Ghoul. “Now we have to leave the camp to walk on the pavement. Even the sewage system pipes were torn out, reminding us of how the camp used to look decades ago,” he said. “People are buying water in trucked-in 3 cubic meters tanks, and electricity was reconnected to part of the camp only on Tuesday, while the majority of houses are still without electricity,” he added.

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Overall, some 60 houses in Nur Shams were either completely destroyed or damaged beyond being livable during the last Israeli invasion. The attack added to the destruction caused by previous Israeli raids – 18 raids so far in the last two years.

During the invasion, the Israeli army dug up the roads in the Nur Shams refugee camp, damaging infrastructure and homes, on April 21, 2024. (Photo: Mohammed Nasser/APA Images)

Nur Shams, the third angle of ‘the north’

In 2021, Israeli forces ramped up their raids into the West Bank’s cities and refugee camps, especially in the north, during Operation Break the Wave, as local resistance groups emerged. In 2022, three local armed groups in Tulkarem joined forces under the name of ‘The Tulkarem Brigade.’

The group has been confronting Israeli raiding forces in urban gunfights. The Nur Shams refugee camp has been particularly targeted by the Israeli army, forming a triangle of armed confrontation with Israeli forces alongside Jenin and Nablus.

Since the beginning of the year, 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Tulkarem, marking the highest death toll for any city in the occupied West Bank so far in 2024. With the latest Israeli invasion of Tulkarem, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the West Bank has risen to 168 since January and 487 since October 2023.

Qassam Muaddi
Qassam Muaddi is the Palestine Staff Writer for breaking news. Follow him on Twitter/X at @QassaMMuaddi.

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