In an overnight raid in the West Bank village of Qabalan, Israeli forces kill 24-year-old Palestinian Zakaria Al-Aqra and injure six others. They then bulldoze part of his family’s house.
Photos and text by: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org
At about midnight on August 11, the Israeli army raided the West Bank village of Qabalan near Nablus. As clashes erupted with the local residents, the military focused its operation in the eastern part of the village on a hill called Al Qantara. Locals reported that they heard fierce exchanges of gunfire at about 2:00 a.m. as the army surrounded two houses of the Al-Aqra family. They said Israeli forces used live bullets and rifle-fired grenades. The army also bombed the entrance of one house.
I arrived at 5:30 a.m. The area was quiet. The clashes had stopped. The army was everywhere in the village. About 15 jeeps were still surrounding the Al-Aqra family house from every side. Two bulldozers were in the area. I could see a whole family detained in one room. The army prevented anyone from entering the area of the operation – even medical staff and journalists. I went to the roof of a nearby house for a better view. I saw a small bulldozer trying to clear a path for a bigger D9 Caterpillar. The smaller bulldozer destroyed electricity towers and platforms. Then, the D9 started to destroy parts of the house, allowing soldiers to enter.
At about 7:00 a.m., the soldiers left the house. The women detained in the house started crying. When we heard their cries we knew that the “wanted person” had been killed. At 8:00 a.m., the army left the area, allowing journalists and medical staff to reach the house. The military left the body of the victim in his home.
He was Zakaria Al-Aqra, 24, of Fatah. Palestinian television news reported that he was wanted by Israel because of armed resistance activity in the past. According to the army, Al-Aqra was involved in multiple shooting incidents at Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. It said it found arms in the building after the siege ended. Six people in his family were wounded, with one remaining in serious condition.
The interior of the Al-Aqra family house was badly damaged, and all of their possessions destroyed. The walls were full of bullet holes and damage from rifle-fired grenade blasts.
According to other Palestinian media reports, soldiers also arrested the Al-Aqra’s brother, Bilal, and another young man, identified as Alaa Hussein Abdulrahim. Another report says that “Israel alleges Al-Aqra shot and seriously injured an Israeli soldier around two weeks ago, as the army was preparing to invade Qabalan. Since then, the army has been conducting daily invasions and attacks in the town.”
As the army left, the massive D9 bulldozer damaged the village streets and entrances to houses on either side. When it reached the main road, used by Israeli settlers, a flatbed truck was waiting to transport the bulldozer so as not to damage the Israeli road.
According to The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli military spokeswoman said she was aware of troop activity in the area but initially had no further details.