Five Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army during overnight military raids on Sunday in the Jenin and Jerusalem areas of the occupied West Bank.
On Sunday, Mohammad Hlayel, spokesman for the Palestinian health ministry, confirmed to Al Jazeera the killing of three Palestinians from the village of Biddu, northwest Jerusalem, who were identified by their families as Ahmad Zahran, Mahmoud Hmaidan, and Zakariya Badwan. 22-year-old Osama Soboh and 16-year-old child Yousif Soboh have also been killed in the village of Burqin, southwest of Jenin city.
The bodies of the three Palestinians from Biddu are in Israeli army custody while Osama Soboh has died in the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin. According to the Wafa, Soboh was killed after Israeli forces raided Burqin and surrounded one of the homes, leading to a gun battle with the army.
Zahran, Hmeidan, and Badwan were killed during an armed confrontation with the Israeli army after it raided the town of Beit Anan, near Biddu.
According to Zahran’s family, Israeli forces had been chasing him for weeks, including with previous army raids on their home, arrests, and interrogation of family members, local media reported.
Ahmad Zahran’s mother accused the Palestinian Authority of aiding the Israeli army arrest operation, saying PA forces had also raided their home recently. “The PA is the one who sent the Israelis to us,” she told the media.
“Patience and solace to their families and close ones, and freedom to our people from this criminal occupation and its continuous violations against our people,” Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh mentioned in a statement.
Israeli media has reported that the army raids aimed to arrest “Hamas operatives” and that two Israeli soldiers have been “seriously injured.”
While Israeli military operations in West Bank towns and villages are a near-daily reality, over the past few months, army raids in the Jenin area have been met with live fire by Palestinian residents. According to Al Jazeera, last month, the Israeli army killed four Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp during an operation that led to armed confrontations.
To withdraw Israel’s recognition
Palestinian President (PA) Mahmoud Abbas has given Israel one year to withdraw from occupied territory in the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. During this year, the PA would be willing to work with Israel on borders and other issues to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
In this virtual meeting, he threatened to no longer recognize Israel based on pre-1967 borders if it refused to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. “We must state that Israel, the occupying power, has one year to withdraw from the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem,” Abbas voiced. “If this is not achieved, why maintain recognition of Israel based on the 1967 borders?”
Speaking against a backdrop showing the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews, and Israel’s territorial expansion over several decades, he accused Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”, terms rarely used to not disrupt ongoing negotiations to build the two-state.
The Palestinian leader also called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “convene an international peace conference.” Palestinians are ready to go to the International Court of Justice “on the issue of the legality of the occupation of the land of the Palestinian state”, he added.
He asked for an international peace conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the supervision of the Middle East Quartet, a joint initiative of the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations. “Do Israel’s rulers dream of maintaining the occupation forever? Are there not other options such as liberty, for example?” Abbas rhetorically remarked.
The PA President also urged the international community to increase pressure on Israel to end its military rule in the West Bank because “this is not incitement of antisemitism; it is the duty of every free person in the world.”
His harsh speech reflects widespread Palestinian frustration. Journalist Rebecca Klapper analyses that his harder stand is a way of burnishing his nationalist credentials at home, where he faces a major backlash for his long rule and the increasingly authoritarian PA.
As she recalls, Abbas’ presidential mandate expired in 2009, but he has continued as head of the PA controlling the West Bank. He canceled the first Palestinian elections in 15 years back in April when it appeared his Fatah party would lose. Then, during the 11-day Gaza war in May, he was largely out-of-action when support for Hamas, his rival raised.
Throughout the UN assembly, Israel has ignored Abbas’s words. The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan stated that “those who truly support peace and negotiations do not threaten delusional ultimatums from the UN platform as he did in his speech” while also mentioning that Abbas had “proved once again that he is no longer relevant.”
It is worth mentioning that the peace process to achieve a two-state solution has been in a deadlock for years with Israel unable to grant the Palestinian a full statehood and the two sides without resolving core issues such as the fate of Palestinian refugees or the status of Jerusalem.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in the 1967 war and has not put an end to its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. Now Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is completely opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
“I oppose a Palestinian state, I think it would be a terrible mistake,” Bennett told the Kan public broadcaster earlier this month. Nor does Bennett have any plans to meet his Palestinian counterpart.
“I don’t see any logic in meeting someone who is suing IDF soldiers at the Hague and accusing them of war crimes, and at the same time paying salaries to terrorists,” Bennett commented in the same interview.