Rafat Wa’el Awadat

February 6, 2023: Rafat Wa’el Awadat, 21, was one of four Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during an invasion of the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp, south of Jericho, in the northeastern part of the occupied West Bank. Among those killed were a pair of brothers. The Israeli soldiers also injured many other Palestinians and abducted eight.

The slain Palestinians were identified as Rafat ًWa’el Owadat, 21, and his brother Ibrahim, 27, Adham Majdi Awadat, 22, and Malek Lafi, 22.

Tha’er Khaled Awadat, 27, was initially reported as killed – and the Israeli military did nothing to correct those accounts, having taken the bodies of the slain Palestinians, including Tha’er’s. But ten days later, on February 16th, the Israeli military informed the Palestinian Authority that Tha’er was still alive but in critical condition, hooked to life support machines at an Israeli Medical Center in Jerusalem.

The Israeli soldiers took the corpses of the deceased away after refusing to allow Palestinian medics to take them.

The Israeli army and the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) said they carried out a joint operation to capture Palestinian fighters in the refugee camp and exchanged fire with them.

Photo By Quds News

The army added that its soldiers killed the five Palestinians, who they claimed were all resistance fighters. The army spokesperson also said that the invasion was targeting alleged Hamas fighters suspected of firing at a restaurant in the illegal Vered Yeriho Israeli colony on January 27h.

The army also claimed that soldiers spotted one of the Palestinians suspected of involvement in the shooting before he fled while firing at them, leading to a pursuit ending at a building in a refugee camp where the fighters were hiding, resulting in an exchange of fire.

The Palestinian Health Ministry described the attack as a slaughter and said three of the wounded were not resistance fighters, including one who suffered life-threatening wounds.

The Israeli army has frequently been invading the refugee camp since January 27, leading to massive protests and exchanges of fire with Palestinian fighters and demolishing several homes and structures.

The army also said its soldiers arrested six Palestinians during the invasion, including two believed to be affiliated with the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

Palestinian sources have confirmed that the soldiers abducted eight Palestinians, including siblings, during the offensive and identified them as Shaker Amarna, Mohammad Riyad Oweidat, Abdul-Hafeth Wa’el Oweidat, Abdul-Hafeth Fakhr Oweidat, and his brother, Mohammad, Ehab Mohammad Hmeidat and his brother Ahmad.

The offensive in the refugee camp started before dawn, Monday, when the soldiers shot three Palestinians with live fire and caused at least three to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Early Saturday morning, many armored Israeli military vehicles, including bulldozers, invaded Aqbat Jabr camp, shot thirteen Palestinians, including three who suffered life-threatening wounds, demolished four homes, and abducted at least five Palestinians, including a father and two of his sons.

Last Sunday night, undercover soldiers killed Ahmad and his brother Ehab Mohammad Hmeidat in a coffee shop at the main entrance of the refugee camp.

Various armed resistance groups and political factions, including Al-Qassam Brigades, the National Resistance Committees, and the Popular Front for the Liberation Of Palestine (PFLP), issued statements mourning the slain Palestinian fighters and vowing retaliation and ongoing resistance until liberation.

Ismael Haniya, the head of the Political Bureau of the Hamas movement, said the resistance against the occupation will never cease until ending the illegal Israeli occupation and the liberation of Palestine, and added that the resistance fighters in Jericho “were heroes who fought with courage and determination.”

Haniyya added that the ongoing Israel crimes against the Palestinian people only lead to more determination and ongoing resistance.

Rafat was from the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp, south of Jericho, in the northeastern part of the occupied West Bank. Source: IMEMC