In Jenin, parish priest sees apparent calm after crime, fears more blood
Israeli action left 10 people dead in the West Bank yesterday, nine in a raid against a refugee camp, and a protester killed north of Jerusalem. Israel also carried out airstrikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire. For Fr Deibes, the “matter-of-factness” of these events is cause for shame.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The atmosphere in Jenin is apparently calm following yesterday’s bloody raid by the Israeli military, which triggered protests and clashes across Palestine, including rockets launched from Gaza into Israel, this according to Fr Labib Deibes, parish priest at the Church of the Holy Redeemer speaking to AsiaNews.
The objective of the Israeli raid was an Islamic Jihad cell in the Jenin refugee camp, but the operation turned into an open clash between the military and civilians, with the latter throwing stones.
About nine people died – including two brothers, Muhammad and Nureddin Ghoneim, and a third person suspected of affiliation with Islamic Jihad – and at least 20 wounded, including four seriously who were hospitalised at Jenin’s Ibn Sina Hospital.
In the afternoon, a 22-year-old man died in Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, shot by Israeli security forces during protests that broke out in the area as well as elsewhere in the West Bank.
After yesterday's serious violence triggered “by the arrival of the Israeli military", the “situation is now calmer,” Fr Deibes said. The soldiers’ action constitutes "a crime" against the population, but nowadays, people “do not harbour any special fear because we are used to violence. Perhaps the matter-of-factness of such events constitutes a reason to be ashamed.”
In the West, in Europe, “the talk is about energy, about prices”, while here “even before freedom we need to be rid of this constant occupation that endangers Christians as well”. Many Christians look more and more “at fleeing, emigrating.”
“Pray for us,” asked the clergyman, “because in the past we fought with stones, today with weapons and there is a strong risk of a further bloodshed. The year that just ended was one of death; 2023 seems to have started even worse.”
Tensions that rose yesterday continued overnight with Israel's air force hitting various targets in Gaza in response to rockets launched from the Strip into the south of the country. Hamas report 15 sites hit by Israeli planes, but no casualties or wounded.
Earlier, at least two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards the Jewish state shortly before midnight were immediately intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome defence system.
In the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon and kibbutz Zikim and Karnia sirens were sounded for possible rocket attacks, but no damages or wounded were reported.
So far this year, 26 Palestinians have died; for its part, the Palestinian Authority has cut security relations with Israel.
What is worrying is the intransigent approach of Benjamin Netanyahu's new Israeli government, made up of religious and far-right parties that are not shy about using force, thus fuelling tensions in the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Jenin, where yesterday’s raid took place, is the Palestinian town where Christian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on 11 May 2022 in similar circumstances, hit by a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier during an operation.
Two days later, during the procession carrying her body from St Joseph Hospital to the burial site, police in riot gear attacked the crowd, almost overturning the coffin in the scuffle.
The family, who met the pope, appealed to the International Criminal Court to obtain justice, while Israel classified the results of its investigation.
Largely ignored by the international community, her death symbolises a year of violence and death.
She died in a place that shares the same challenges that most Palestinian cities face, namely occupation with road blockades, economic woes and high youth unemployment, displacement in other parts of Palestine and abroad.
Jenin has a population of 50,000, with about 150 Christians, all Catholics. The Congregation of the Daughters of St Anne is present in the area.
A kindergarten with about 90 Christian and Muslim children is run by a Christian woman, and four educators, two Muslims and two Christians.