CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Omar Mohammad Awadeen’s age is 16 years old, however, after confirmation it was made clear that Awadeen is 14 years old.
Jerusalem24 – Four Palestinians including a child were killed by the Israeli army and undercover forces and 23 injured by live ammunition during a daytime military invasion of the city of Jenin this afternoon.
An undercover Israeli unit infiltrated the city and executed two Palestinians in the street, shooting into the crowd and killing two others, before attempting to flee in vehicles with Palestinian license plates.
The Ministry of Health identified the victims as 29-year-old Youssef Saleh Shraim and 28-year-old Nidal Ameen Khazem (the presumed targets of the undercover unit), as well as 37-year-old Louay Khalil Zughayr, and 14-year-old Omar Mohammad Awadeen.
Five of the injured remain in critical condition and are being treated at Ibn Sina Hospital, Al-Razi Hospital, and Jenin Governmental Hospital.
Israeli forces and settlers have now shot and killed 86 Palestinians including 17 children in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem in the first ten weeks of 2023 – more than half the total number of fatalities in 2022, which itself was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the Second Intifada.
Jenin has borne the brunt of the casualties, with 35 of the 85 fatalities hailing from the city.
Crowded city center
At the onset of the last weekend before Ramadan, the streets in Jenin city center were packed with shoppers at around 3 PM when the raid began.
Mobile phone as well as CCTV footage show heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the streets before gunshots can be heard, with people running for cover and sheltering in shops and doorways.
A Palestine TV reporter in the city center described a scene of “fear” as shots were fired “randomly” into the streets, with children running in fear and mothers attempting to protect their children.
Extrajudicial execution caught on camera
According to eyewitness statements, 28-year-old Khazem and 29-year-old Shraim were running errands together in the city center when the undercover unit emerged from two civilian cars with Palestinian license plates and shot Khazem “point-blank in the head”.
According to the eyewitnesses, Shraim ran around a corner and was pursued by the unit, who then “shot randomly into the crowd”, killing Shraim and 16-year-old Omar Awadeen.
Mobile phone footage shot from a first-floor apartment shows the undercover unit walking back past Khazem lying on the ground, seemingly unconscious or dead, and shooting him in the head.
Extrajudicial executions, especially of unarmed or injured persons, can be considered a war crime under international law, and “may also amount to genocide or crime against humanity in specific contexts and if they are part of a collective practice”.
Operation gone wrong?
According to video footage viewed by Jerusalem24, after shooting Khazem, Shraim and Awadeen, the unit ran towards the two vehicles and boarded them while shooting into the street at unidentified targets.
One vehicle, a white Jetta, is filmed exiting the city while being pursued by residents throwing stones. Gunshots can be heard as the car weaves its way through traffic and hits a motorbike at a roundabout.
The second vehicle, a beige Skoda, crashed into a parked car outside a printing shop in the city. Mobile phone footage documents the moments immediately following the crash, with a gunman visible through the back window and youth grabbing objects on the ground to throw at the vehicle.
According to eyewitnesses, the unit took cover inside the printing shop and fired heavily through the shopfront, shattering the glass windows and injuring a worker.
Mobile phone footage shows four armed men exiting the shop into a military vehicle around an hour later. Footage shot elsewhere in the city shows the Skoda being towed away by a convoy of Israeli military vehicles.
A statement by the Israeli army made no mention of having to extract the undercover unit.
It is unclear when the fourth casualty, 37-year-old Zughayr, was shot and killed, and Jerusalem24 is still working to determine the circumstances surrounding his killing.
Crossing “all red lines”
Khazem and Shraim were both Palestinian fighters, respectively affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades. Both were former detainees in Israeli prisons. Khazem was the cousin of Raed Khazem, who shot and killed three Israeli civilians in a shooting attack in Tel Aviv in April 2022.
The Fatah-affiliated Al-Quds Brigades issued a statement in mourning for Khazem and Shraim.
Palestinian factions and political parties also called on the Palestinian Authority not to attend an upcoming meeting with Israeli representatives in Sharm Al-Sheikh, which was scheduled during the Aqaba summit in Jordan last month.
US and Jordanian officials, who coordinated the Aqaba summit, touted the event as a bid to curb the current “escalation” of violence in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, particularly ahead of Ramadan.
However, mere hours after the conclusion of the meeting, both Palestinian and Israeli parties denounced the agreements reached as “a scam” that would not be adhered to, even as hundreds of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian residents in Huwara south of Nablus after a shooting attack killed two Israeli settlers in the afternoon.
Jenin Governor Akram Rajoub said today that Israel had “crossed all red lines” during the botched undercover operation. “It is clear that the lives of Palestinians are worth nothing to the Israeli government.”
Funerals were held for all four Palestinians immediately after the military retreated from the city.