Israeli forces closed down Qabatiya village in the northern occupied West Bank overnight Wednesday, following an attack carried out by three youths from the village who shot and killed a 19-year-old Israeli police officer, and seriously injured another. All three youths were shot dead at the scene, but Israeli forces retaliated by closing down the attackers’ hometown.
Around 25,000 people in the large northern village are on lockdown. All seven entrances to the village are closed, and only a muddy path through a farm field remains open. Residents told Mondoweiss that if Israeli forces found that they had been using the path, it too would be closed.
To reach the village one has to navigate the muddy farm road marred with deeps trenches made by ambulances tearing out of the village to get the injured to safety.
While an Israeli army spokesperson told Mondoweiss that humanitarian cases would still be allowed entry and exit, the village’s emergency service center told a different story.
As an ambulance passed by the center, the driver slowed for a moment to tell Ahmad Sabaana, the head of the office, that soldiers had entered the village, and they were unable to make it to the dirt road. The elderly man having heart palpitations in the back of the emergency vehicle would have to taken to the village’s two-room clinic.
“This has happened a few times during the past two days,” Sabaana explained. “Gunshot wounds we can handle, but that is about it, our clinic is made for treating colds, not heart attacks.”
Ibrahim Zakarna, who works at the emergency center told Mondoweiss that he and his team have been working day and night.
“We don’t have a minute to sit down,” Zakarna said. “We are putting out fires, bringing medicine to people, bringing food to people scared to leave their homes, treating gunshot wounds from the clashes until ambulances can arrive. It doesn’t stop.”
Zakarna explained that one house, home to eight residents, sits just on the other side of one of the dirt mounds that have blocked the entrances to the village. The home was turned into a military barracks for Israeli forces and the rest of the village has no access to the eight people.
“They called us asking for help, we’ve begged Israeli soldiers to allow us to bring them food and supplies or allow us to move the family into a home inside the village but they refused.”
Clashes have been ongoing in the village day and night. During one of the clashes on Friday around 80 young men had gathered at one of the main entrances of the village that had been shuttered.
Protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at forces, but the divide between the two sides at the front line of clashes was so wide, the teen’s efforts landed in the middle of the street, far from endangering Israeli soldiers on the other side of a large dirt mound.
Israeli forces responded with live bullets. In the photo here, the same young man pictured above lays on the ground, shot in the leg by Israeli forces.
Young men were scattered across the village’s streets, confronting Israeli forces at several entrances.
One young man said the clashes would continue until Israeli forces opened the village. An Israeli army spokesperson said the village will remain closed for at least a month. After a month of closure, authorities would then reevaluation the “situation assessment.”
“Because they closed the road, no one can go to work, so this is out work now,” Yassir, who did not want his last name or face published said. “If they want to do this it is fine for us, it will only make us stronger.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article referenced the three youths who carried out the attack as all being teens. Mondoweiss correspondents Abed Al Qaisi and Sheren Khalel have since confirmed with the youths’ families that two were 19 and one was 22.