A lot of misinformation has been circulating regarding Tuesday’s invasion of Nablus. This article only contains the information which to the best of our knowledge is accurate. If and when further details become available, we will provide further updates.
Jerusalem24 – Noelle Mafarjeh and Nadeen Alshaer – The West Bank woke up this morning after the deadliest night since April this year. Five Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Nablus, and a sixth was shot and killed in Nabi Saleh north of Ramallah.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health named the casualties of a large-scale Israeli military invasion on Nablus as 30-year-old Hamdi Sabih Ramzi Qayim, 26-year-old Ali Khaled Omar Antar, 35-year-old Hamdi Mohamad Sabry Hamed Sharaf, 31-year-old Wadeea Sabih Al-Hawah, and 27-year-old Mashal Zahi Ahmed Baghdadi.
Three members of the Palestinian security services, who were filmed coming under Israeli fire, were injured with live ammunition, including a member of the intelligence services, a member of the military intelligence, and a member of the preventive security services. One is still in critical condition.
In Nabi Saleh, 19-year-old Qusai Al-Tamimi was shot and killed by Israeli live ammunition during confrontations that erupted following the military invasion of Nablus.
Ahmad Jibril, the spokesman of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Nablus, told The Voice of Palestine in an interview this morning that the organization had dealt with 32 injuries in Nablus, nearly all inflicted by live ammunition, four of which were in serious condition.
According to local sources, Israeli forces prevented ambulance crews from reaching the Old City of Nablus in order to transport the dozens of wounded.
Soon after the beginning of the invasion, and as reports of deaths began pouring in before 2AM, men and youth took to the streets in cities across the West Bank in protest, and confrontations erupted between local youth and the Israeli military in different locations.
Chaos and conflicting reports
At 12:17AM, initial reports of exchange of gunfire were reported from the center of Nablus, followed by several reported minutes of calm, during which sources on the ground attempted to ascertain the exact nature of events amidst an immediate atmosphere of chaos.
Sources told Jerusalem24 that armed confrontations could be initially be heard taking place in Al-Hara El-Sharqiyeh in the old city of Nablus, and in Al-Fatmiyeh, also in the old city.
Simultaneously, Palestinian security officers stationed at the Martyrs’ Roundabout at the entrance to the old city came under fire from an unidentified source. Video footage of the incident shows security officers dispersing in various directions, with some heading towards the old city.
15 minutes after the initial shooting, at 12:32AM, video footage was being distributed online showing security members and one armored vehicle, as well as an ambulance, driving up to Rafidia Hospital in the old city of Nablus.
During this initial phase, according to eyewitness accounts and our source, only Israeli snipers positioned on rooftops and undercover special forces were present in the vicinity of the old city of Nablus.
It is extremely unusual for the Israeli military not to inform PA security of an imminent invasion. Security coordination arrangements between the PA and Israeli provide that PA security usually retreats ahead of an operation. It is even more unusual that PA security should come under direct Israeli fire.
However, the security source informed Jerusalem24 that the Shin Bet (Israeli intelligence) had been part of the operation and did not want to inform PA security as is custom, “for fear of leaks”.
At 12:40AM, dozens of armored Israeli military vehicle entered the city from different sides. The gunfighting abated for around 10 minutes during this time.
At 12:51AM, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that eight injuries including one in critical condition had arrived at Rafidia Hospital. At 1:03AM, the Ministry of Health announced the death of 35-year-old Sharaf, a barber who had just closed his salon in the old city neighborhood of Al-Hara El-Sharqiyeh and was on his way home when he was shot and killed.
Around 1.20AM, Palestinian armed group the Lions’ Den, which operates out of the old city of Nablus, issued a call for Palestinians to confront the soldiers. Immediately afterwards, video footage shared on social media shows dozens of unarmed young men running towards the old city.
At 1:34AM, Palestinian media (followed shortly afterwards by the Ministry of Health) announced the death of 26-year-old Antar, who sources told Jerusaem24 ran into a contingent of undercover Israeli forces in Al-Fatmiyeh in the old city and was shot and killed at the scene. Local and security sources say he was unarmed and not engaged in the confrontations.
It appears both Antar and Sharaf were unarmed and uninvolved in the confrontations, while 30-year-old Qayim and 31-year-old Al-Hawah were both specifically targeted by the Israeli military. 27-year-old Baghdadi was also engaged in armed confrontations, though Jerusalem24 has not been able to confirm if he was affiliated with any group.
“War, war, war”
31-year-old Al-Hawah was the announced target of the invasion, according to Israeli media. He was a leader within the Lions’ Den group (though not the leader as claimed by certain outlets).
According to a neighbor whose house is directly adjacent to Al-Hawah’s, the Israeli military began attacking the house shortly after 12:30AM.
Soon afterwards, the military targeted the house with Energa anti-tank rifle grenades. According to eyewitnesses, at least three drones also targeted the house.
The Israeli military told the Hebrew press they had used handheld anti-tank grenade launchers, but did not confirm or deny the use of drones in the operation. Eyewitnesses elsewhere in the city reported drones were used to launch tear gas cannisters.
The Israeli military and media say Al-Hawah’s house was a “bomb factory and laboratory” for the Lions’ Den. Photos taken inside the house after the assault show extensive damage.At 2:01AM, the Ministry of Health announced another death, which would turn out to be 30-year-old Qayim whose charred body arrived at Rafidia Hospital after the car he was in was blown up by an IED. According to Israeli media, the car also contained explosive materials. Jerusalem24 is still working to ascertain the exact circumstances surrounding the detonation.
Qayim was known to be a Palestinian fighter but there is no confirmation that he was affiliated with the Lions’ Den.
Jerusalem24 has also been unable to verify reports of a second car being targeted by Israeli fire in a different location, which also reportedly contained explosives.
At 3:05AM, Palestinian media reported Israeli withdrawal from the old city, and at 4.13AM the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced the death of Al-Hawah after over two hours of military siege on his house.
At 7:28AM, the Ministry of Health announced the death of 27-year-old Baghdadi, who was injured hours earlier during the armed confrontations with Israeli forces in the old city.
Video footage captures the destruction left in the old city in the wake of the invasion. A man behind the camera keeps repeating, “Harb, harb, harb” (“War, war, war”).
West Bank on full strike for the second time in less than a week
The National and Islamic forces declared a comprehensive strike across the West Bank for the day. The Palestinian Bar Association as well as universities across the West Bank also declared a full strike, and all commercial institutions remained closed. While schools opened in the morning, students were sent home after the third period.
The Ministry of Education in Gaza also announced the suspension of schools this afternoon in the whole Gaza Strip, and several cities across the Strip participated in the strike.
Thousands of Palestinians took part in the funeral of the five men killed in Nablus, as well as the funeral of 19-year-old Tamimi who was shot and killed by Israeli forces in Nabi Saleh during the confrontations that erupted following the assault on Nablus.
Confrontations between local youth and the Israeli military have been taking place throughout the day and evening in various locations across the occupied West Bank. Several Palestinians have been injured by live ammunition in Bidu northwest of Jerusalem, in Hebron, Al-Bireh, while dozens more were injured by rubber-coated bullets and suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Last Thursday, a full strike was observed in every city across the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem in mourning for Oday Tamimi, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a shooting attack, and also as an expression of frustration at the sheer number of Palestinians killed this year (over a quarter of which are children) and in solidarity with residents of East Jerusalem and Nablus who have been facing protracted military sieges, while the rest of the West Bank has been dealing with suffocating road closures and restrictions.