Nablus: Israeli incursion shatters lives in historic Middle Eastern metropolis

Nablus, West Bank

The coronary heart of occupied Nablus is without doubt one of the most historic cities within the Middle East. With two church buildings, 12 mosques and a Samaritan synagogue round densely populated residential areas, the occupied West Bank metropolis’s nickname is “Little Damascus” due to the way in which its structure, arches and even the native accent and meals are harking back to these of the Syrian capital.

On a traditional day, the odor of spices and hand-made Nablus cleaning soap, the intense colours of material, and the welcoming faces of individuals fill the slim alleys of the Ottoman-era Old City.

A large Israeli navy incursion on Wednesday focusing on three suspected militants modified all that. A CNN crew visited the town a day after that raid, to search out residents wanting into the eyes of each stranger, not welcoming, however involved concerning the cause for his or her go to.

The market was on strike, mourning the 11 Palestinians killed the day earlier than. Rather than promoting their wares, enterprise homeowners had been gathering spent bullets from the alleys, with bullet holes and blood stains testifying to the violence the day earlier than.

“We heard explosions and went to hide under the beds. We covered our ears with blankets,” stated an outdated girl with trembling arms and a shaking voice, who was afraid to be recognized. “I can’t even describe how shocking it was. We saw death with our own eyes. We didn’t expect to get out of this alive.”

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Bullet holes in a door testify to the violence of the previous day.

Residents of the Old City have confronted many night-time navy invasions over the past 12 months, particularly because the new Lion’s Den militant group began working there.

But this week’s invasion got here at a really surprising time of the day.

“They came around 10 a.m. We consider that rush hour in a densely populated area,” stated Ahmad Jibril, head of the Emergency and Ambulance Department of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Nablus. The lifeless included a 72-year-old market dealer who, Jibril alleged, “was shot with 10 live bullets all over his body although he wasn’t causing any threat.”

Paramedic Amid Ahmad, who was working to rescue the injured, stated that is the primary time because the peak of the final intifada in 2000 that he has seen the Israeli military utilizing weapons the way in which they did this week.

“They were shooting randomly everywhere,” he stated. “There was an extremely huge number of injuries. Everything was so difficult – reaching the injured, evacuating the injured, everything was difficult because the area is very narrow and was all blocked by the army that prevented us from working.”

Israel Defense Forces worldwide spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht denied that Israeli troops had been firing “randomly,” saying: “The IDF only shoots at threats.”

Another IDF spokesman, Maj. Nir Dinar, informed CNN he hoped it was not true that IDF forces had blocked medics from reaching the wounded, and stated he was “not familiar with such behavior.”

Nablus residents say undercover Israeli navy operatives had been concerned within the raid, one cause they had been so distrustful of strangers the next day.

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This Nablus building was damaged in the raid.

Bullet holes are seen on a car in Nablus, the day after the deadly raid.

Sahar Zalloum was coming house from bringing her husband’s breakfast to his store out there, she stated, when she was shocked to see a person she believes was an undercover operative on the door of her home: “I heard some noises in the yard. I saw a man wearing a sheikh’s clothes sitting with a gun. He asked me to get into the house. I ran home – it was terrifying, we didn’t dare to look out from any window, snipers were on all of the rooftops.”

Zalloum and her husband survived unhurt. But many weren’t so fortunate.

Social media video seems to indicate at the very least two Israeli military automobiles close to the doorway of a mosque, amid gunfire as a bunch of Palestinians come out of the mosque.

CNN requested the IDF concerning the video, however acquired solely a generic assertion in response, saying partly: “The circumstances of the event in the video are under examination.”

The wounded had been transferred to Al Najah Hospital within the metropolis, the place Elias Al-Ashqar is a nurse. A video captured him within the emergency room, screaming “My father, my father” the second he realized one of many lifeless was his father Abdul-Hadi Al-Ashqar, 61.

“I didn’t believe it, then I came closer,” he informed CNN the following day. “I had one of my colleagues with me. I asked him if he sees this dead man as my father. I looked around, waiting for anyone to say that I was mistaken. But it was my father.”

Since the start of the 12 months, 62 Palestinians have been killed within the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in response to the Palestinian Ministry of Health – the very best quantity at this level in a 12 months because the 12 months 2000. Israel argues that lots of the lifeless are militants, or folks attacking Israeli civilians or clashing with Israeli navy forces.

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But a few of them – like Elias Al-Ashqar’s father Abdul-Hadi – seem merely to have been harmless bystanders.