Israel accused of executions, using human shields in West Bank raid

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(The Age, 6/5/2024)

Israel accuses Hamas of crimes that they have been using for more than 50 years – shameful. Mark

Nur Shams, West Bank: When Israeli soldiers arrived at Mohamad Abu Sweilem’s door and summoned his son during a raid on this Palestinian refugee camp, he pleaded with the soldiers to take him instead.

He could not fathom why the Israelis wanted Rajai, a 39-year-old father of four who worked at the family hardware store and was not a militant, he said. The soldiers, who had been in the camp for days, did not seem to know who his son was, or care much: they never asked for identification, his family said. Still, they led him away.

Less than a minute later, Mohamed heard gunshots, and his son’s voice crying out in pain, he said. The family found Rajai’s body hours later, after the soldiers had withdrawn. They suspect soldiers used him as a human shield to confront militants in a downstairs apartment and then shot him, a claim the Israeli military denies.

Residents across Nur Shams accused the Israeli army of using brutal tactics during its raid on militants last month. For more than 50 hours, starting April 18, people were trapped in their homes as electricity, water and internet to the area were cut off. When they emerged, they found roads torn up, houses wrecked and bodies in alleyways.

The incursion was the latest in a series of Israeli raids in West Bank cities that have made the past few years the deadliest in decades for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territory, with 2024 on pace to be even more lethal than 2023 was. Israel says the raids are part of a campaign to weaken militant groups, like the Tulkarm Brigade, that operate in Nur Shams: local groups that have gained strength in recent years as prospects for the end of Israel’s occupation have dimmed and that have found recruits among mostly young, politically disaffected men.

This article is based on more than a dozen interviews over two days inside Nur Shams and by phone, as well as on photos and videos provided by eyewitnesses and reviewed by Washington Post reporters.

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Father Dave

Anglican Priest, Professional Boxer,Social activist and Father of four


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