Palestinian Deaths – Unrest in the West Bank: Palestinian Deaths Surge as Violence Spreads
Palestinian Deaths – In a tragic turn of events, the conflict in Gaza has now spilled over into the West Bank, resulting in deadly clashes and attacks on Palestinian residents.
One of the most heart-wrenching incidents occurred when Ibrahim Wadi, 62, and his son Ahmad, 24, were on their way to attend a funeral for four Palestinians who had been shot dead by Israeli settlers in their West Bank community.
During their journey through the small village of Qusra, located just south of Nablus, they fell victim to an attack by armed settlers on Thursday.
Regrettably, both father and son were gravely wounded and passed away shortly after being transferred to a nearby hospital, as confirmed by their family members.
Palestinian Deaths – The West Bank has witnessed a significant increase in violence since October 7, triggered by a surprise assault launched by Hamas on Israel. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 61 individuals, including children, have lost their lives, with over 1,250 sustaining injuries in the occupied West Bank.
Hamas’ assault has resulted in a devastating toll within Israel, with more than 1,400 individuals, primarily civilians, losing their lives. Israeli authorities report that at least 199 people are believed to be held hostage inside Gaza.
In response to the escalation, Israel imposed a “complete siege” on Gaza, conducting widespread airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, leading to a reported 3,478 casualties, while also threatening a potential ground invasion.
Simultaneously, tensions continue to rise in the West Bank, where Palestinians have lost their lives in confrontations with both Israeli forces and settlers.
Palestinian Deaths – Hani Odeh, the mayor of Qusra, expressed his concerns about the settlers’ unchecked presence in the village under the protection of Israeli police. He had informed a member of COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), responsible for Israeli activities in the West Bank, of his intention to attend the funeral with Ahmad and Ibrahim. However, they were diverted onto a different route, only to encounter settlers who ultimately shot and killed them inside their car.
Odeh recounted watching the attack unfold from his vehicle while Israeli soldiers patrolled the street. Despite his pleas to disperse the settlers, no action was taken, leaving him with a sense that it was a trap. CNN reached out to COGAT and the IDF for a response to Odeh’s claims, but as of now, there has been no response.
Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari, the spokesperson for the Israeli military, stated that the military is on high alert in the occupied territory and is prepared to respond with significant force to any challenges in the West Bank.
Residents of the West Bank interviewed by CNN express their fear of further violence from the Israeli military and security forces, as well as possible revenge attacks by the estimated 700,000 Israeli settlers living in the region.
This alarming development comes against a backdrop of increased settler attacks throughout the year, with one incident even described as a “pogrom” by an Israeli military commander.
Even prior to the conflict with Hamas, tensions had been escalating in the West Bank. In response to Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the preceding year, Israel had launched frequent incursions and raids into the West Bank, targeting what they deemed as militant strongholds.
This resulted in a significant number of casualties among both Palestinians and Israelis, reaching levels not seen in at least a decade.
Days after the tragic violence in Qusra, a village with approximately 7,000 residents, the community is still grappling with the aftermath. Photographs memorializing the six people who lost their lives now adorn the walls of homes and buildings, casting a somber atmosphere.
An apartment building on the village’s outskirts, where the initial four killings occurred, stands as a grim reminder of the recent attacks. Torched cars, broken water pumps, and ransacked electricity lines bear witness to the violence.
The building was attacked by armed settlers on October 11, resulting in the tragic deaths of Musa’ab Abu Raidi, 19, Obaida Abu Srour, 18, Hassan Muhannad, 22, and Moath Odesa, 29.
Inside the apartment building, Rabeea, 19, and her brother Abdulrahman, 12, recounted the terrifying attack. They explained how settlers launched rocks and gunfire at the building while they sought shelter inside with their mother.
Their older brother and his 6-year-old daughter were among the injured, and they were receiving treatment at a nearby hospital. Mayor Odeh revealed that they were among the 12 people hospitalized after the attack.
The family, understandably shaken, is now preparing to move to another village as they fear for their safety. For Rabeea and Abdulrahman, this experience is tragically familiar, as their father fell victim to an attack by Israeli settlers near Nablus seven years ago.
The persistent fear of violence has once again forced their family to uproot and seek refuge in Qusra, only to be faced with the same threats.
Since Israel took control of the West Bank in 1967 following the six-day war, settlements have been established by Israeli civilians, often with military protection.
While most of the world deems these settlements illegal under international law, successive Israeli governments have shown support for them, asserting that the West Bank is a “disputed territory” and justifying their settlement policy as legal.
This year, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the most right-wing and extremist government in Israeli history, tensions between settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank have surged.
Palestinian Deaths – Despite international criticism, Israel has approved a record number of housing units in West Bank settlements. Several members of Netanyahu’s government, who are themselves settlers, have faced accusations of inciting violence against Palestinians.