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Israeli forces kill four brothers during Jenin raid

Witnesses say the young men had gathered at the city entrance to watch Israeli forces withdraw when they were targeted
Palestinian women attend a funeral of Palestinians who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Jenin in the occupied West Bank, 7 January 2024 (Reuters)
By Fayha Shalash in Jenin, occupied West Bank

Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians during an early morning operation in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Sunday, all cousins, including two sets of brothers.

An Israeli drone strike targeted a group of young men who had gathered to watch Israeli forces withdrawing from the area, according to witnesses.

The seven young cousins included four brothers, Hazza, 27, Rami, 22, Ahmed, 24, and Alaa Darwish Asous, in addition to brothers Mohammed and Wadi Yasser Asous, and their relative Rizqallah Nabil Asous.

"I lost everything, I have nothing left, my house is now empty," the mother of the four brothers lamented at her sons' funeral.

The air strike took place near the entrance of Jenin, in the area called Martyrs' Triangle. 

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Mahmoud al-Saadi, director of the Red Crescent in Jenin, told Middle East Eye that its crews moved as soon as they heard the sound of a strong explosion in the area.

The crews arrived at the scene to find six people dead with their bodies torn apart, and a critically wounded young man. Wadi Asous, 18, was pronounced dead at the hospital two hours later. 

"The Israeli army was not present at the scene because the raid was approximately 6km away from the site of the massacre," he added.

Confrontations broke out after the Israeli incursion into to the city. During the raid, an Israeli police officer was killed and three others were wounded after their vehicle was hit by an explosive device, the Israeli military said.

The Jenin Brigade, a local armed resistance group, claimed responsibility for the attack on Israeli forces.

Torn bodies

Mohammed Asous, a relative of the victims, said that their homes are close to the main street through which Israeli military vehicles pass during raids on Jenin.

It was 5am, and the young men were sitting around a fire they had lit to keep warm when Israeli drones flew low over the city. Hours later, the army stormed the city.

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"We were sleeping, when suddenly we heard the sound of a strong explosion that shook the house. We went out running in the street to the site of the explosion and found terrible scenes," Mohammed told MEE.

The strike had left bodies of all the young men in pieces. Mohammed found a headless body among them and began screaming when he realised that it was his nephew, Rizqallah Asous.

The four brothers had been in Jordan with their father before they moved to the West Bank years ago. They worked in construction and selling vegetables in Israel before the war on Gaza started but had lost their jobs after Israeli authorities banned Palestinian workers from entering Israel.

Their father was not able to attend the funeral to bid farewell to his sons due to Israel's restrictions on entry into the West Bank. He observed the funeral via video call.

"All seven were unarmed, it was clear that they were sitting and talking. This is a horrific crime that we cannot forget. We used to see these scenes on television, and today we saw them as a reality among our children," said Mohammed.

'The smell of blood'

Journalist Raya Arouq from Jenin lives only 500m from the site of the attack and she woke up to the sound of the explosion.

"The scene was horrific," she told MEE. "Screaming, the sound of ambulances, mothers crying, and the smell of blood filled the place."

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Arouq said Israeli forces have deliberately targeted gatherings of Palestinians in Jenin without justification since the war started. 

"A few days after the start of the war on Gaza, an Israeli drone targeted a group of Palestinians in the Martyrs' Cemetery in Jenin and killed a number of them. After that, this tactic was used several times, to the point that when the army storms Jenin, people call on each other not to have gatherings," Arouq said.

She believes the attacks are aimed at increasing pressure on Jenin, a popular incubator of the Palestinian resistance.

"Israel is trying to kill Palestinians in Jenin, not arrest them, and this was clear in many recent attacks. Young people are being bombed simply for gathering," she said.

At least 327 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by either Israeli soldiers or settlers since the start of the war.

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