In Aqaba, a town in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian man lost his life as Israeli forces carried out a raid following a confrontation that led to the destruction of a building. Abdul Rahim Fayez Ghannam, aged 36, was fatally shot in the head during the incident and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Nidal Odeh, the director of emergency services in Aqaba, expressed that ambulances were prevented from reaching the wounded by Israeli forces, and one ambulance was directly targeted with live ammunition.
Israeli forces conducted the raid in search of Ahmad Walid, whom they accused of being involved in a shooting attack near a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley the previous month. Witnesses reported that the Israeli soldiers believed Walid was hiding in one of the buildings, but he was not found there.
The raid commenced at 5 am as Israeli forces surrounded a building where Saleh Abu Arra’s two brothers resided with their families. Bakr Abu Arra, one of the brothers, was apprehended by the Israelis. Saleh Abu Arra stated that the soldiers shouted at his brother through loudspeakers, demanding him to come out with his family, and proceeded to beat him with their guns, causing distress to his wife and children.
After thirty minutes, Israeli forces started using sound bombs and tear gas canisters against the building. They then proceeded to target the second and third floors with antitank grenades, resulting in the destruction of an adjacent wedding hall.
According to witnesses, the following five hours were marked by violent confrontations, with Israeli soldiers firing live ammunition at the ruined building, while Palestinian residents retaliated by hurling objects at military vehicles. Armed Palestinian men also targeted the Israeli convoy with live fire.
Amir al-Qasem, a witness, recounted that the late Fayez was caught in the crossfire. Al-Qasem mentioned that Fayez was a farmer on his way to his fields when the unfortunate incident occurred.
The Israelis failed to arrest Walid, and in frustration, they began firing randomly at the destroyed house and its surroundings, leaving behind a large number of bullet casings inside the building.
During the raid, Israeli forces arrested Saleh Abu Arra’s other brother, Mohammed Abu Arra, alongside their father, Abdelrazeq. Mushrif, the brother of Ahmad Walid, stated that they were surprised when Israeli intelligence contacted them by phone. Mushrif explained that his brother is a labor worker in Israel who occasionally remains away from home for extended periods. Despite informing the Israelis that Ahmad was not present, they forced Mushrif’s elderly parents outside and took them to the Abu Arra building, where they coerced them into calling for Ahmad to surrender through the loudspeakers.
The Israeli army reported that a firefight erupted between armed fighters and soldiers, resulting in a “hit” on one of the gunmen. Additionally, troops made use of shoulder-fired missiles and grenades, and subsequently discovered improvised explosive devices and other weapons within the targeted building.
These near-daily military raids led by Israeli forces have contributed to some of the most intense clashes in the occupied West Bank since the early 2000s. According to the United Nations, over 200 Palestinians have lost their lives this year, making 2023 the deadliest year for Palestinians since the organization began recording Palestinian fatalities in 2006.
- What initiated the raid by Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Aqaba?
- Did the Israeli forces succeed in apprehending Ahmad Walid?
- How many Palestinians have been killed by Israel in 2023?
- What were the findings of Israeli forces during the raid?
- Has there been an increase in military raids in the occupied West Bank recently?