Israeli occupation forces killed five Palestinians, inside the West Bank, in less than two days last week. The killings on Wednesday and Thursday came as tensions continue to boil in the occupied territories. Israel has also imposed restrictions on foreigners seeking to enter the West Bank, in a move that has spurred outrage.
Last Wednesday, Israeli occupation forces killed the second female Palestinian journalist in less than a month. Thirty-one year old Ghufran Warasneh had just started her third day in her new job, with a local Palestinian radio station, when she was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Al-Aroub refugee camp area, north of Al-Khalil city. The Israeli military claimed they saw her in possession of a knife and that she had planned to attack soldiers, yet bystanders stated that she posed no such threat. Later that same day, Israeli occupation forces then stormed Ghufran’s funeral, attacking mourners, throwing stun grenades and firing tear gas towards pallbearers. The incident triggered a reminder of the attack on slain Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh’s, funeral, which took place only weeks ago.
On Thursday, Israeli occupation forces shot dead a 17 year old Palestinian boy, who was reportedly playing with friends at the time in the village of al-Madiya, located West of Ramallah city. The young victim, Odeh Mohammed Odeh, was said to have arrived in the Palestine Medical Complex with a “a bullet wound to the chest”, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. He was declared dead shortly afterwards.
Israeli occupation forces also killed 29 year old Ayman Mheisen, from Dheisheh refugee camp. In addition to this, 24 year old Bilal Kabha was murdered by Israeli forces that raided Jenin. Also, a 41 year old member of the armed wing of the PIJ movement, died of their wounds that were sustained during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza in 2021, the fourth to have died from their previous wounds this year.
The escalation of violence from the Israeli military has been combined with a new order imposed to restrict access to the West Bank and to further monitor people’s movement in and around the territory. A 97-page ordinance, called the ‘Procedure for Entry and Residence for Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Area’, requires “all foreigners” to apply for Israeli permission to enter the West Bank and additionally includes further restrictions for Palestinians too. Previously, the West Bank had always been accessible to foreigners, many of which would travel to the territory in order to witness or document human rights violations committed by Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers. Perhaps the biggest problem with the new system is that Israel will likely use these applications to monitor, then ban, foreigners who seem to show sympathies towards Palestinians. It is also likely that many will be outright rejected permission to enter altogether.
According to Al-Shabaka, a Palestinian advocacy group:
“The policy has more expansive entry rules, which some legal experts say is an attempt to restrict and track the travel of foreign nationals to the occupied Palestinian territories, control Palestinian population growth, and keep data on the land claims of Palestinians holding foreign nationalities.”
Furthermore, Al-Shabaka states: “The rules also further complicate and formalise written and unwritten entry restrictions for foreigners wishing to visit, do business, reunite and reside with their Palestinian families, work or volunteer in the West Bank, or study or teach at Palestinian academic institutions. Foreign-passport holding Palestinians must provide information – for visa purposes – on an application for approval prior to travel, which includes the names and national ID numbers of “first-degree” relatives, or other non-relatives with whom they may stay or visit.”
This newly implemented policy, which went into effect on May 22, can be combined with new amendments made to Israel’s ‘open fire’ policy, which now allows for soldiers to make the decision to shoot-to-kill Palestinians even easier than before. Israel has also announced that a further 800 settler units will be approved for construction inside the West Bank, in clear violation of international law. This, as Israeli settlers escalate the rate of their provocations and violent attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territory.
The above measures, combined with Israel’s trigger happy soldiers, is creating a nightmare scenario in the West Bank for Palestinians. So far this year, 64 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, almost all of them were murdered in the West Bank. To make things worse, US President Joe Biden and his government refuse to seriously address the killing of their own citizen Shireen Abu Akleh. This begs the question; how can we believe that western nations will ever care to act for Palestinian human rights, when they won’t even bother to utter a word of criticism against Israel for the murder of a journalist who held a US passport?