On Thursday, February 23, metropolis streets within the West Financial institution, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip had been silent. Palestinians had declared a common strike and a day of mourning in gentle of the Israeli invasion of one of many West Financial institution’s most historic cities the day earlier than, which left 11 Palestinians lifeless and over 102 individuals injured.
On the morning of February 22, Israeli forces invaded Nablus. It began with an undercover particular operations unit infiltrating the Outdated Metropolis within the early daybreak hours, looking for fighters from the Lions’ Den resistance group.
Hours later, the particular operations pressure situated two resistance fighters that had simply walked into the Habalah Quarter of the Outdated Metropolis — Husam Bassam Isleem, 24, and Muhammad Omar “Juneidi” Abu Bakr, 23.
By roughly 10 a.m., the undercover Israeli groups moved in for the kill. An armed confrontation ensued as the 2 fighters had been holed up in a home within the metropolis. The Israeli particular forces summoned reinforcements 20 minutes into the operation, and that’s when the large-scale onslaught started, as Israeli army autos flooded town.
In keeping with eyewitnesses from Nablus and Balata refugee camp, greater than 50 Israeli army autos launched a full-fledged land invasion of Nablus whereas imposing a closure on entry and exit factors to town.
Three fighters had been killed in the course of the confrontation within the Habalah quarter, as a 3rd comrade of Juneidi and Isleem, 23-year-old Waleed Dakhil, had joined the struggle in the course of the alternate of fireplace. Different resistance fighters from Nablus-based resistance teams, such because the Nablus Brigade and the Balata Brigade, had been additionally killed throughout armed confrontations with the Israeli army all through town.
All of the whereas, the Israeli military’s conduct all through town was violent and indiscriminate, as troopers fired at bystanders and killed a number of noncombatants whereas injuring numerous others. By 1:30 p.m., the military started its retreat, leaving devastation in its wake.
All advised, the military killed 11 Palestinians in Nablus, ten on the day of the invasion, with the eleventh succumbing to his wounds the next day. Greater than 100 Palestinians had been injured, together with a minimum of three journalists. 85 of the accidents had been with reside ammunition, with six in essential situation, in accordance with the Palestinian Ministry of Well being.
Seven of the slain had been resistance fighters, recognized as Mohammad Khaled Anbusi, 25, Tamer Nimr Ahmad Minawi, 33, Musaab Muneer Mohammad Oweis, 26, Jasir Jameel Abdelwahhab Qan’ir, 23, Husam Basam Isleem, 24, Walid Riyad Hussein Dakhil, 23, and Mohammad Abu Bakr Juneidi, 23.
The opposite 4 Palestinian non-combatants had been killed by the military all through the invasion. Three of them had been aged males, recognized as Adnan Sabe Bara, 72, Abdelhadi Abed Aziz Al-Ashqar, 61, and 66-year-old Anan Shawkat Annab, who died the day following the invasion from respiratory accidents because of tear gasoline inhalation. The fourth noncombatant was a minor, recognized as Mohammad Farid Shaaban, 16.
According to the Israeli army, two Israeli troopers had been injured in the course of the confrontations.
Fighters Sure by Friendship
The Israeli military stated the extrajudicial assassination mission was launched upon receiving intelligence in regards to the whereabouts of Muhammad Juneidi and Husam Isleem, who had been wished by the Shin Wager.
The house the place the armed youth had made their final stand now lies in ruins, water pipes flooding the world.
Standing on the rubble of what was as soon as a staircase, a pal and comrade of Juneidi exhibits me a video of the slain man from the evening earlier than. The 23-year-old holds a cigarette in a single hand and a mobile phone within the different, his rifle thrown throughout his abdomen as he slouched on a yellow mattress. Stays of the boys’s final meal might be seen among the many rubble, an empty “Cappy” juice bottle, and a few emptied styrofoam bowls.
Once they had been encircled within the Habalah quarter of the Old City, Isleem and Juneidi had been within the firm of one other younger fighter, Walid Dakhil, 23.
Dakhil’s physique was riddled with bullets. Though not the goal, he confronted the troopers in an try to assist his associates survive.
Shifting slowly and gently along with his fingers in his jacket, Dakhil’s youthful brother seemed so much just like the photographs of Walid.
“He was so loving,” Dakhil advised Mondoweiss as he moved to the location of his brother’s assassination.
Guiding the best way towards the Habalah quarter of the Outdated Metropolis, Walid’s 21-year-old brother clenched his jaw when recalling the slaughter of that morning. His chin appeared to unlock solely as he shared tidbits of his brother in additional intimate settings with associates.
“He liked life,” he stated. “My brother, he liked life,” he repeated, in case it didn’t resonate the primary time.
“He liked to snort,” Walid’s youthful sibling interjected, chuckling. “He used to at all times crack jokes to make these round him snort too, in a teasing sort of means.”
The Israeli military claimed that the three males had posed a risk to Israeli lives, albeit with out offering proof. On the identical time, the Shin Wager claims that the Lions’ Den no longer poses a serious threat to Israel. Extra statements from the Israeli army justified the extrajudicial assassination on the grounds that the boys had refused to show themselves in.
Younger Males in Sweatpants Towards a Army
“There was no signal that the [Israeli army] was going to do one thing like this at the moment,” a 20-year-old boy from Balata Refugee Camp tells Mondoweiss, just a few hours after the assault.
“They need to filter the fellows earlier than Ramadan,” one other younger man says. “They need a quiet Ramadan — no issues.”
The 2 youths had been lookouts holding look ahead to any new invasions or undercover forces which may enter town.
Most youth within the West Financial institution costume the identical. The identical baseball caps and Adidas or Underneath Armor coaching jackets have turn out to be one thing like an off-the-cuff uniform of the brand new disaffected era going through off towards the occupation.
“, one of many martyrs was one in every of us,” one of many younger males says, lifting his hat from his face.
Musaab Muneer Oweis, 26, was one of many individuals from Balata who heeded the pressing name of the Lions’ Den to hurry to the protection of the surrounded resistance fighters in the course of the top of the incursion. The military killed him in the course of the armed confrontations.
“Musaab’s coronary heart was hooked up to Ahmad,” Oweis’s mom stated in an interview with the Palestinian Quds Information Community, (QNN). “Since Ahmad’s killing, Musaab hadn’t shaved,” she advised QNN. “He then went on this path, turned wished [by the Israeli army], and by no means got here house.” Attempting to console herself, she continued: “the boys advised me he was fierce, on the frontlines of confrontation.”
Past Balata Refugee Camp, just a few kilometers away, lay the Outdated Metropolis. A number of hours after the invasion, a hushed silence reigned over its cobbled streets. A whole group had been torn aside by the Israeli rampage, very like the invasions of the earlier 12 months that led childhood associates to bid each other farewell a lot too early.
In November 2022, Husam Isleem was seen holding a rifle to his chest, palms overlapping, face lined, and sporting a cap emblazoned with a ribbon that learn “Areen Al-Usud” — the Lions’ Den. He was bidding farewell to his pal and comrade, Mohammad Hirzallah, 30.
Additionally recognized by his nom de guerre “Abu Hamdi,” Hirzallah had succumbed to wounds sustained on July 24, 2022, throughout an Israeli invasion that killed two Palestinians in Nablus’s Yasmeena quarter. On the time, the Lions’ Den was a smaller group inside what was often called the Nablus Brigade, a neighborhood department of the Islamic Jihad’s army arm, the Al-Quds Brigades (Saraya al-Quds).
“I believe Juneidi was able to go,” a younger man from the Outdated Metropolis and shut comrade of the slain fighter advised Mondoweiss, opening photographs and movies that they had taken the evening earlier than. “He was saying final evening how he was able to go.”
One other man within the small alleyway resulting in the assassination website interrupted, “Alhamdulillah,” sharing a prayer of gratitude to God. “He requested to be a martyr, and he acquired it.”
The lads had been dwelling in hiding since final 12 months, unable to comfortably or safely meet with family and friends. A part of that isolation means the younger males should look out for one another. One other a part of the burden is that they’re saddled with the duty of defending their communities.
Simply earlier than the Habalah quarter, the place the three youths had been killed, lies the Faqous quarter, the place one of the crucial notorious assassinations of 2022 occurred — the February assassination of Adham Mabrouka, Ashraf Mubaslat, and Mohammad Dakhil. The three resistance fighters had been a part of a gaggle of youth who would later coalesce into the Lions’ Den. Their assassination sparked the start of the phenomenon of Israeli extrajudicial assassinations of resistance fighters.
Six months later, the three martyrs’ comrade, Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi (dubbed “the Lion of Nablus”), was additionally assassinated, alongside Islam Subuh and 16-year-old Hussein Taha, on August 9, 2022.
Mohammad Dakhil was attributed because the co-founder of the Lions’ Den. Nevertheless, it was the killing of Al-Nabulsi that triggered the group to skyrocket in reputation and visibility. Walid Dakhil, the resistance fighter killed within the Nablus invasion whereas making an attempt to help Juneidi and Isleem, was Mohammad Dakhil’s cousin.
“He liked life,” Walid Dakhil’s youthful brother says. “My cousin too,” he continued.
“My brother Juneidi and I can be greeting all of the martyrs,” Isleem recorded as his last phrases. “I simply want that you’ll forgive us, my brothers. Please forgive us.”
‘That’s My Father!’: an ER Medic’s Worst Nightmare
Whereas the guts of the operation occurred within the Outdated Metropolis, the military’s assault unfold throughout Nablus and reached town middle, the place tear gasoline was fired at residential buildings and civilian houses.
In keeping with Ahmad Jibril, the director of emergency providers in Nablus, an hour into the invasion, medical personnel had been both unable to succeed in or had been actively denied from reaching lots of the injured. Adnan Sabe Bara, 72, was one in every of them, who was shot in a number of components of his physique and was left to lie bleeding as Israeli troopers obstructed medical personnel from reaching him.
One other two Palestinians, 16-year-old Mohammad Shaaban, and 61-year-old Abdelhadi Abed Aziz Al-Ashqar had been additionally shot in a number of components of their our bodies and died of their wounds.
Al-Ashqar, who lived in Askar refugee camp just a few kilometers southeast of Nablus, was reportedly leaving prayers when he was caught in the course of the sudden invasion and subsequently riddled with Israeli bullets. Al-Ashqar was hospitalized and declared lifeless at Nablus’s Najah Hospital.
Mondoweiss spoke to Ashqar’s widow, Umm Muhammad.
“Separation and loss are troublesome as it’s,” Umm Muhammad advised Mondoweiss from her house in Askar refugee camp, 6 km northwest of the Outdated Metropolis of Nablus. “Separation by loss due to the bullets of this ugly regime is indescribable.”
“I ponder if he was upset with me,” she stated, wanting round her house forlornly. “No, he would’ve advised me.”
She turned once more and addressed the room of members of the family and ladies who had come to provide their condolences. “What’s consuming my thoughts is how I’m going to deal with the approaching days,” Um Muhammad stated.
Al-Ashqar’s sister sits beside Umm Muhammad, continuously repeating the mantra, “God grant us endurance in such occasions.”
The primary member of the family to search out out about Ashqar’s dying was his son, Elias. He discovered within the worst means possible.
Elias is a medic within the ER at Al-Najah Hospital in Nablus. He was about to complete his shift earlier than the invasion started. The sheer variety of accidents required that he keep within the ER a bit longer.
Elias was presupposed to resuscitate an older man who was injured, solely to search out that it was his father. His screams of “Allahu Akbar, my father! That is my father!” had been captured in a harrowing video that circulated throughout social media.
On the funeral house in Askar, Elias’s eyes welled with tears as girls walked up and down the steps to console his mom and sister.
“Even when he was a resistance fighter, this loss might need been simpler for us,” Umm Mohammad advised Mondoweiss. “I do know we think about our martyrs to be exalted by God,” she stated, half embarrassed, half in tears. “However…how? How can I ever settle for this?”
“How is it that you’re used to an individual who talks to you every single day, helps alleviate your wounds and your pains, somebody who needs that they will take the ache in your house, after which have them gone? How can I overlook this?” she continued.
Umm Mohammad cried then, and the ladies round her had been crying too. Her solely daughter was hiding in her room. “She was his spoiled one,” Ashqar’s sister defined to Mondoweiss. “He liked that lady a lot.”
Earlier this month, on February 7, Israeli forces killed Ashqar’s younger cousin, 17-year-old Hamza Ashqar. He was shot within the face for throwing a chunk of metallic at an Israeli military car throughout an incursion on Nablus.
Outdoors of Askar, the remainder of town of Nablus is grieving. Within the late hours of the night, solely youth and younger boys might be seen patrolling the streets in small teams. It’s as if town has turn out to be a ghost city inhabited solely by the younger.