Jerusalem24 – The Israeli forces shot and killed 57-year-old Jawad Bawaqneh and 26-year-old Adham Jabarin and injured several others during a military invasion of the city of Jenin and its refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank, in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Jabarin was reportedly a senior member of Islamic Jihad in Jenin, while Bawaqneh was a high school teacher and a father of six.
Veteran Palestinian journalist Ali Samoudi in Jenin tells Jerusalem24 that an Israeli convoy entered the city of Jenin and the adjacent refugee camp to arrest a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the city. Instead, the army arrested two of his sons, and retreated without having arrested their target.
“Like a scene from 2001”
According to Samoudi, over 70 military vehicles invaded the city and refugee camp around 2:30 AM after undercover units had infiltrated the area. Israeli snipers stationed themselves in multiple buildings surrounding the camp.
Eyewitnesses told Wafa News Agency that the undercover units infiltrated a residential building at the entrance to the camp, stormed several apartments, detained the residents, and seized their mobile phones. Akef Samoudi and Muhammad Sa’abneh were identified among the residents.
“The forces then raided the camp, and bulldozers removed blocks that were set by the resistance fighters, then the fighters clashed with the occupation soldiers in a heavy exchange of fire, explosive devices were used,” says Samoudi, who described the military raid “like a scene from the April 2001 Jenin refugee camp invasion.”
Samoudi confirmed that Jabarin, who was a member of the Jenin Brigades, was engaged in armed confrontations with the Israeli soldiers when he was shot by a sniper in the abdomen.
The Jenin Brigades issued a statement saying its members detonated a number of explosive devices against Israeli military vehicles, claiming they were able to damage two vehicles.
The Al-Qassam Brigades in Jenin also announced that “our fighters and the resistance factions engaged in fierce clashes with Zionist special forces in the Al-Damej neighborhood and Al-Hawashin neighborhood in the Jenin camp, and targeted them with a heavy barrage of bullets and explosive devices.”
The Israeli army said in a statement that “our forces fired at armed men who fired at them, and hits were identified.”
A general strike was announced in Jenin in mourning of Bawaqneh and Jabarin, with all commercial and educational institutions closed.
Hundreds took part in the funeral procession of Bawaqneh and Jabarin on Thursday afternoon after their families bid them farewell.
17 Palestinians have now been shot and killed by the Israeli military since the beginning of the new year, including four children.
“We all saw the moment he was shot”
An eyewitness told Quds Feed, a local media outlet, that Jabarin was next to Bawaqneh’s house when he was shot and killed.
“Ostaz Bawaqneh’s daughter,” said the eyewitness, using a term of respect to designate Bawaqneh, “came out of the front door to help Jabarin. She dragged his body after he was shot. Her father then tried to help her, but an Israeli sniper shot ostaz Bawaqneh.”
Farid, Bawaqneh’s son, told Jerusalem24 that his oldest sibling Ala’ is still “in shock”: “She’s not speaking, she’s shocked… All of us saw the moment he was shot.”
According to Farid’s testimony, the Bawaqneh family heard someone shouting outside their house, opened the window, and saw a man bleeding and shouting laying on the ground just a few meters away.
“We went downstairs,” recounts Farid. “My sister, Ala’, and my father tried to drag the man to our front door to help him. Suddenly and out of nowhere my father was shot in the chest, a bullet that pierced through his body. I think that my father was hit by another bullet in the abdomen, because blood was all over his body.”
Farid added that a volunteer paramedic tried to help his father, but that his father had been fatally shot. “The paramedic did everything he could. My father died on the spot.”
Salah-Eddin Mansour, a volunteer with the medical relief team in Jenin refugee camp, received a call about an injury in front of Bawaqneh’s house and immediately went to provide first aid. When he arrived, he helped Bawaqneh and his daughter to drag Jabarin’s body.
“Ostaz Bawaqneh tried to help Jabarin, but he was shot,” said Mansour addressing the media at Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin. “I provided first aid in his house while waiting to transfer him to the hospital, but he died.”
Paramedics and journalists warned not to enter camp
Medical crews and ambulances were prevented by the Israeli military from entering Jenin refugee camp.
Around 3:00 AM, the Israeli army also informed the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Administration, which liaises with Israeli authorities, that ambulances and journalists “should not approach” the camp.
“We shouted for ambulances,” recounts Faris, “but eventually moved my father’s body to a private car and headed to Ibn Sina Hospital.”
Eyewitnesses believe that the sniper who shot Bawaqneh is the same who shot Jabarin.
Bawaqneh and Jabarin were both pronounced dead in Ibn Sina Hospital, then transferred to Jenin Governmental Hospital’s morgue.
Doctor Wassim Baker, General Director of Jenin Governmental Hospital, tells Jerusalem24 that Bawaqneh was shot in the chest and Jabarin in the abdomen. Both were shot with explosive bullets, the type of ammunition used by Isralei snipers.
Dr. Baker added that the staff at the hospital dealt with a further two injuries, one of which remains in critical condition at the time of publication.
Government hospital targeted by Israeli gunfire
Two rooms in Jenin Governmental Hospital were hit by multiple bullets fired by Israeli snipers stationed opposite the hospital, says Dr. Baker, including the pediatric nursing room and a meeting room for pediatricians, with the bullets “hitting a wall in a room and piercing through to the next one”. No one was injured.
“This is a full-on targeting of hospitals and medical crews,” Dr. Baker charges. “The international community needs to step in. Jenin has been witnessing near-daily invasions, and we have been dealing with hundreds of injuries and fatalities. Medical crews are at the heart of the targeting by Israeli snipers.”The Minister of Health, Dr. Mai Al-Kaileh, condemned the targeting as a “crime that threatened the lives of patients.”