‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 51: Israel Fires at Palestinians Attempting to Return to Northern Gaza Amid Shaky Truce

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 27 Nov 2023

Mustafa Abu Sneineh | Mondoweiss - TRANSCEND Media Service

Mondoweiss

26 Nov 2023 – Israeli forces killed a Palestinian in Al-Maghazi refugee camp and shot at people attempting to inspect their homes amid the shaky temporary truce. Israel also killed five Palestinians during a 14-hour raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Casualties

  • 15,000 killed*, including 6,150 children, and 33,000 wounded in Gaza Strip.
  • 235 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,200

*This figure is based on an estimate as reported by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa on October 26. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza), the Gaza Ministry of Health has not been able to regularly update its tolls.

Key Developments

  • The prisoners and captives exchange on Saturday was delayed several hours due to a dispute over aid trucks not reaching the northern Gaza Strip and the release of two Israeli captives, who could not be located.
  • 39 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons, 33 are or were children at the time of their arrest. Hamas released 13 Israelis and four Thai citizens.
  • Hamas offered to release two women instead of the captives’ relatives, who could not be tracked, but Israeli officials did not approve it, and 13 captives instead of 15 were released, Kan News reported.
  • Four of the Thai citizens were foreign workers in the agricultural farms, and they were not a core part of the exchange deal.
  • Prior to the prisoners’ release, four Palestinians were injured with live bullets near Ofer prison in a confrontation with Israeli forces, who also shot tear gas at journalists covering the story.
  • Israeli forces warned Palestinians against returning to the north of the Gaza Strip and to remain 1 kilometer away from the checkpoint on Salah El-Deen Street; those who attempted to return to Gaza City were shot at, according to Al-Jazeera.
  • The Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia which was under siege by Israeli tanks for the past week, was emptied on Sunday from its remaining patients and medical staff.
  • Five Palestinians were killed in Jenin refugee camp, and Israel launched ten drone strikes in the city during a 14-hour raid operation.

Palestinian prisoners and Israeli captives exchanged at the eleventh hour as truce appeared in danger

The temporary truce in the Gaza Strip appeared in danger on Saturday evening as the release of captives and prisoners kept being delayed till the eleventh hour.

Eventually, Hamas released 13 Israelis and four Thai citizens less than an hour before midnight, and later, Israel freed 39 Palestinian women and children from prisons.

Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson told CNN on Saturday afternoon that they were working to overcome the obstacles through mediation.

The dispute involved aid trucks not reaching the northern Gaza Strip and the release of two Israeli captives.

Hamas said in a statement that it was delaying the release of captives until Israel allowed aid convoys to enter Gaza City and its environs, which were carpet-bombed for 49 days, flattening entire neighborhoods and killing thousands of people.

The resistance group also said that the short pause of fighting would be in danger if Israel did not adhere to the agreement of freeing Palestinian prisoners, starting with those who were detained for the longest number of years.

Palestinians amid the complete destruction from Israeli attacks in Nusairat during the 4-day truce in Gaza, November 25, 2023. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)

On Sunday morning, Kan News reported that Hamas’s inability to locate two Israeli captives was another cause of the delay.

As part of the truce deal, Hamas agreed to release entire Israeli families who had been taken captive together rather than separating family members. However, Kan reported that Hamas could not locate the mother and brother of two of the captives who were released on Saturday night. Israeli officials insisted that those captives’ relatives be found, adding hours of waiting. Hamas said early in October that due to the indiscriminate Israeli bombardments of Gaza Strip, the group could not locate all the captives, and that at least 50 of them died, and some are under the rubble. Kan reported that Hamas offered to release two women instead of the relatives, who could not be tracked, but Israeli officials did not approve it, and 13 captives instead of 15 were released.

Four of the Thai citizens were foreign workers in the agricultural farms, and they were not a core part of the exchange deal.

Among the released captives on Saturday was a nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl, whose father told the CNN in early November that he received the news that she was “killed by Hamas.”

On Sunday, she was the subject of a diplomatic row between Israel and Ireland, the only EU country whose politicians are outspokenly supportive of Palestinians.

Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, tweeted: “This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered.”

Varadkar’s tweet prompted a response from Eli Cohen, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, who said “Mr. Prime Minister, It seems you have lost your moral compass and need a reality check! Emily Hand was not ‘lost’, she was kidnapped by a terror organization… shame on you!”.

The captives and prisoners exchange has not toned down Israeli officials rhetoric, who continue to threaten war on the Gaza Strip.

According to Kan News, Israel’s army chief of staff, Herzi Halevi wrote to soldiers that upon the end of the temporary truce on Monday, “we will return to fight with full determination, for the continued release of the abductees until the dissolution of Hamas.”

The third day of the truce is expected to see immense efforts from Qatar and Egypt mediators to ensure its success.

Palestinians traveling south from the Zeitoun district on the southern outskirts of Gaza City on November 26, 2023, on the third day of a truce between Israel and Hamas. (Photo: Ahmed Ibrahim / APA Images)
Palestinians traveling south from the Zeitoun district on the southern outskirts of Gaza City on November 26, 2023, on the third day of a truce between Israel and Hamas. (Photo: Ahmed Ibrahim / APA Images)

Israeli forces shoot at Palestinians returning to inspect houses in northern Gaza Strip

Despite the temporary truce, a Palestinian was killed and another injured on Sunday, east of Al-Maghazi refugee camp, according to Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

Israeli forces warned Palestinians against returning to the northern Gaza Strip and to remain 1 kilometer away from the checkpoint on Salah El-Deen Street. Those who aimed to cross the checkpoint to Gaza City were shot at, according to Al-Jazeera.

Several Palestinians were injured by Israeli bullets, three of them near the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia. For the past week, the hospital was under siege from Israeli tanks, and on Sunday it was emptied of the remaining patients and medical staff, Ashar Al-Qidra, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, told Al-Jazeera.

Four other Palestinians were injured near Al-Quds Hosptial, Wafa reported. They were also checking their houses in Tel Al-Hawa.

Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip displaced almost 1.7 million Palestinians. Some have attempted to return to inspect what happened to their neighborhoods and properties during the temporary truce and record the devastation with phone cameras to share with their families.

The figure of those killed in Gaza Strip since October 7 was not updated on Sunday, but Wafa reports estimated that it reached 15,000 people, 6,150 children, and more than 4,000 women. At least 36,000 have been wounded.

Released Palestinian prisoners are seen on a bus in the town of Beitunia close to the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Nov. 24, 2023. (Photo: © Ayman Nobani/Xinhua via ZUMA Press APAimages)
Released Palestinian prisoners are seen on a bus in the town of Beitunia close to the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Nov. 24, 2023. (Photo: © Ayman Nobani/Xinhua via ZUMA Press APAimages)

Israeli forces prevent any scenes of celebration of the released prisoners in Jerusalem

Palestinian prisoners’ families waited till the early hours of Sunday in occupied Jerusalem and the towns of Al-Bireh and Beitunia in the occupied West Bank, to meet their freed relatives.

Among them were 33 are or were children at the time of their arrest. Wafa news agency published a list of their names and imprisonment sentences.

Wafa reported that five women and one child from Jerusalem were handed to their families at Al-Moskobiya detention and interrogation center.

The rest were taken from Ofer military prison, near the City of Ramallah, to Al-Bireh and Al-Beitunia towns, where hundreds of Palestinians met them with joy, celebration, and calls for the resistance movements in Gaza to release all Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails, where at least 7,000 people are currently detained.

However, prior to the prisoners’ release, four Palestinians were injured with live bullets near Ofer prison in a confrontation with Israeli forces, who also shot tear gas at journalists covering the story.

In occupied Jerusalem, Israeli forces blocked relatives and well-wishers of freed prisoners from gathering at their houses and warned them of any scenes of joy. Al-Jazeera Arabic reported that on Thursday, Israeli forces confiscated candies and sweets from Palestinian prisoners’ houses to prevent celebration.

Israa Al-Jaabis, who was detained since 2015 and suffers from severe burns to her hands and face, was one of the Jerusalemite prisoners whose family could not hang any decorations to welcome her.

She told Al-Jazeera Arabic that her release was delayed for several hours and spoke of the horrible conditions and treatment the female prisoners were subjected to in Israeli jails.

Shorouk Dwayyat from Jerusalem, who served nine years of a 16-year sentence before being released in the exchange, told Al-Jazeera that in the past several weeks, they saw an escalation of “repression, starvation, thirst, and the imposition of great overcrowding” by Israeli jailers.

She added that she fears for the well-being of those female prisoners left behind, some of them under the age of 18, and the youngest was 12 years old.

Omar Shweiki, who was 15 years old when he was arrested in November 2021 by Israeli forces, said that for the past 50 days, Israeli jailers prevented prisoners from exercising and that there are 13 and 15-year-old children currently detained.

Since October 7, the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs Commission warned that the Israel Prison Service is imposing punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners, including insufficient and low-quality food, denial of access to the exercise yard, daily power cuts, medical neglect, and restrictions on family visitation.

Last week, Al-Jazeera reported that Israel is subjecting Palestinian prisoners and detainees to “psychological torture,” and forcing them to to kiss the Israeli flag, listen to the Israeli national anthem, and say “the State of Israel is Strong” during their detention. Israeli jailers will beat those who refuse to obey their orders.

Six Palestinians have died inside Israeli jails since October 7.

A view of damaged buildings and streets following an attack by Israeli forces using airstrikes with armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on Jenin refugee camp in Jenin, West Bank on November 26, 2023. (Photo: Mohammed Nasser/APA Images)
A view of damaged buildings and streets following an attack by Israeli forces using airstrikes with armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on Jenin refugee camp in Jenin, West Bank on November 26, 2023. (Photo: Mohammed Nasser/APA Images)

Five Palestinians killed in Jenin, and Israeli forces arrested dozens in the West Bank

Nine of the Palestinian prisoners released late on Saturday were from the town of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, which witnessed a violent Israeli raid that killed five and injured 14 people.

Wafa reported that Israeli forces also arrested 11 others, among them two of the wounded, during a 14-hour raid operation on Jenin refugee camp that ended in the early hours of Sunday.

Asaad Ali Al-Damj, 33, was killed by an Israeli drone attack on a house in the Al-Damj neighborhood in the Jenin camp. Ammar Muhammad Abu Al-Wafa, 21, Ahmed Abu Al-Haija, 20, Muhammad Mahmoud Freihat, 27, and Mahmoud Khaled Abu Al-Haija, 17, were killed in different locations in Jenin during the confrontation with Israeli forces.

Wafa said that 10 Israeli drone attacks were launched on Palestinian homes and a charity in Jenin camp. The city announced a strike on Sunday to mourn its martyrs.

In Nablus, Oday Misbah Snobar, 30, was killed during an Israeli raid of Yatma village. The Palestine Red Crescent said that Snobar was shot with a live bullet in the face was taken to the hospital, and later died.

Since October 7, Israeli forces and settlers have killed 235 Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, injured almost 3,000, and arrested 3,160 people.

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