Palestine: Israeli crackdown on Shuafat sparks violence across Jerusalem and West Bank
Violent confrontations erupted between Israel and Palestinian youth in separate parts of occupied East Jerusalem late on Wednesday, with the most intense standoff seen in the besieged Shuafat refugee camp.
Flare-ups were also reported across the occupied West Bank, with confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli troops accompanied by attacks by Jewish settlers.
In the Shuafat camp, which Israeli troops have locked down for five days following a deadly shooting at a nearby checkpoint, violence continued until around 3am.
The confrontations were sparked by Israeli troops storming homes belonging to the Tamimi family, a member of which is suspected by Israel of killing an Israeli soldier at the checkpoint on Saturday night. Three Tamimis were arrested.
Israeli forces fired tear gas inside the homes, with several people inside suffering injuries from choking.
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Muhammad Samrin, a journalist from Shuafat refugee camp, told Middle East Eye that an Israeli bulldozer advanced from a military checkpoint at 7am and began to open the roads that the residents had closed as part of their civil disobedience protest against the camp’s blockade.
Around 140,000 Palestinians live in Shuafat, the only refugee camp within Jerusalem’s municipal boundary. Though lying close to the Old City, the camp is separated from the rest of Jerusalem by Israel’s towering separation wall.
Later on Thursday, Israel partially relieved the closure, which had cut residents from the outside world and forced them to miss medical appointments and work, by opening a checkpoint.
Waste collection trucks entered and transported rubbish that had piled up in the streets since the closure began on Saturday.
Some vehicles were allowed to leave the camp towards Jerusalem after thorough searches, Samrin said. Meanwhile, the Anata road, which connects Shuafat camp to the West Bank, was also opened but remained under heavier restrictions.
Israel believes the shooting suspect is still inside Shuafat camp and will attempt to reach the West Bank, according to Israeli media.
Despite the partial reopening of the camp’s entrances and exits, residents of Shuafat said their civil obedience action and protests will continue until Israeli forces end all restrictive measures against them.
"The occupation army is imposing a policy of collective revenge against the camp's residents, and this has cost us a lot financially and psychologically, " Samrin told MEE.
In solidarity with Shuafat camp, fierce confrontations spread to several Jerusalem neighbourhoods on Wednesday night, including Beit Hanina, al-Isawiya, Sur Baher, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and Jabal al-Mukaber.
In Sur Baher, Palestinian residents reportedly opened fire on Israeli forces, but no injuries were reported. Two Israeli police officers were lightly wounded in al-Isawiya, possibly by explosive devices or firecrackers.
At least 18 Palestinians were arrested across the city.
Settler attacks in the West Bank
Meanwhile, settler attacks escalated on Palestinian villages located near Israeli settlements across the West Bank.
In the village of Qasra, south of Nablus, settlers attacked poultry farms and torched three of them, which led to the deaths of 30,000 birds. The settlers also destroyed olive trees in the area, leading to confrontations with residents.
'These attacks are very dangerous and all indications suggest that they will likely become more violent in the coming days'
- Ghassan Daghlas, Palestinian activist
At least 15 Palestinians were wounded in a subsequent Israeli crackdown, during which soldiers fired baton rounds, according to Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian activist monitoring the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank’s north.
Daghlas said settler attacks this year have been very intense compared to previous years, with at least 1,000 recorded so far.
"These attacks are very dangerous and all indications suggest that they will likely become more violent in the coming days,” he told MEE.
On Thursday morning, settlers flanked by soldiers attacked Palestinian houses in Huwarra town south of Nablus.
Elsewhere in Nablus, gunfights erupted overnight in the vicinity of Joseph's Tomb after settlers stormed the site under heavy army protection.
The confrontations came after a Nablus-based Palestinian armed group, called the Lions’ Den, said it would attack soldiers protecting settlers while they stormed the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Palestinian armed resistance in the West Bank has been growing in recent months, but military analyst Youssef Sharqawi told MEE that it has a long way to go before transforming into a fully fledged intifada.
Security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority still limits fighters’ ability to expand their activities and recruit more people.
"The young Palestinian fighters today are fighting in the spirit of standing up to the occupation and trying to counter its strategy of killings, humiliation and controlling Palestinians,” Sharqawi said,
But, he added, as Israeli targets get attacked more frequently, momentum will build up.
"Each operation is stronger than the previous one. They become infectious and spread widely, and every time it puts Israel in a more difficult position."
According to Sharqawi, the West Bank is witnessing only the beginning of a new era in the conflict, the nature of which is yet to become clear.
"This phenomenon may precede the climax of a future intifada and is building on recent short-lived uprisings. We are going through a very important moment, but it may take some time to fully be able to understand it," he said.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.
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