Palestinians Celebrate Iran Attack Amid Fears that ‘War Will Go Regional’

Palestinians Celebrate Iran Attack Amid Fears that ‘War Will Go Regional’


Some Palestinians gathered in the West Bank chanting “Allahu Akbar” as Iranian missiles soared overhead. Others fear the situation is about to get much worse.

Updated Apr. 14, 2024 6:52AM EDT / Published Apr. 14, 2024 6:46AM EDT 

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

RAMALLAH, West Bank—Israel, as ever, was divided Sunday morning after a dramatic night that saw Iran fire over 300 missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation for an Israeli attack on an Iranian embassy in Syria two weeks ago, which killed seven high-ranking military officials.

Israeli Spokesman Daniel Hagari said that most of the drones and missiles had been intercepted but that a seven-year-old girl from a Bedouin village near Arad, in southern Israel, was seriously wounded while minor damage was caused to infrastructure at an IDF base in southern Israel.

Terrified Americans, mother and daughter Moira and Hannah Jilani, spent a sleepless night attempting to shelter in the safest room of their house. They live in the Palestinian suburb of Shuafat in East Jerusalem, which has no bomb shelters, unlike Jewish West Jerusalem.

“On Saturday night I heard explosions and saw the missiles and what appeared to be their interception not far above us. They seemed to be coming from different directions, including from the direction of Jordan and Lebanon,” Hannah told The Daily Beast.

“I ran inside and yelled at my mom to go immediately into our most protected room which we use as a closet.

“It has no windows and has a staircase leading downstairs so we huddled under the heavy metal doorframe at the top of the stairs,” she said.

Moira said she had struggled to sleep and was unable to accompany a heavily pregnant friend who was rushing to hospital to give birth.

“I told her I wasn’t going out under any circumstances with all those rockets raining down over us,” she told The Daily Beast.

Both the Jilani women periodically came out from under the staircase to take a quick look at what was happening in the skies overhead and at the highway below.

“When I looked from my balcony, which has a view of a main highway below, during the night I could see the cars were driving crazily fast to get home and to find shelter,” Moira told The Daily Beast.

“My stomach is in a knot and I’m very concerned about what will happen from now on and whether this war will go regional,” said Moira.

The sound of Israeli jets flying overhead, backwards and forwards, in the direction of Lebanon and elsewhere, could be heard constantly in the skies over both Jerusalem and Ramallah.

It was also a sleepless night in Ramallah but the reaction of many Palestinians in Ramallah and East Jerusalem was fairly unanimous—and the opposite of most Israelis.

Overnight Saturday, and during the early hours of Sunday morning, an excited crowd gathered in the streets of Ramallah and pointed to the skies and the visible trails of missiles that were flying in and being intercepted.

Similar to Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem some of the crowd were shouting “Allahu Akbar” and pointing to each new fiery trail that flared across the sky.

Several Palestinians Ramallah told The Daily Beast that they welcomed Iran’s retaliation. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the high number of Palestinians arrested by the Israelis for expressing support for the resistance or even sympathizing with the suffering of Gazans.

“I think it’s great, Israel needs to leave our land,” said one uniformed Palestinian policeman on duty near the Manara, or city center, in Ramallah.

“Israel needs to be taught a lesson because it always thinks it can attack Muslims and Palestinians without any retaliation,” said another, a restaurant employee.

However, the owner of the restaurant *Bassem (name changed), was less impressed.

“It’s all just glorified fireworks. Iran’s attack won’t change the Israelis’ behavior and if anything will make them more aggressive. The politics of this region do not impress me at all,” he told The Daily Beast.

And while international attention has been focused on Iran, Gaza and Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, another front is breaking out. The West Bank is on fire and burning – literally.

For the last two days the sounds of Israeli jets flying overhead were overshadowed by the sound of an Israeli drone circling above the Ramallah area and the sound of screaming ambulances ferrying wounded Palestinians to hospital in the de facto Palestinian capital.

Two Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by live ammunition and beatings as rampaging Israeli settlers, accompanied and supported by Israeli soldiers, left a trail of death and destruction which subsequently spread to other villages near Ramallah.

The Israeli military, and special forces, are hunting for the perpetrators responsible for the death of a 14-year-old Israeli settler boy, whose body was found in the vicinity of Palestinian villages near Ramallah, and have encircled and cordoned off nearby villages.

Binyamin Achimair went missing on Friday morning and the Israelis believe he was kidnapped and killed by nationalist Palestinians.

Dozens of Palestinian homes, cars, businesses and civil defense vehicles were set on fire by the settlers.

“It’s extremely dangerous on the ground here,” veteran Palestinian photo-journalist Jaafer Shtayyeh told The Daily Beast.“We could see hundreds of Israeli settlers and soldiers heading into the village of Al Mughayyer and surrounding villages. When the settlers fired towards the journalists and at my car I knew it was too dangerous to stay and had to leave.”

Dr Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, which provides first aid in the field and coordinates with other Palestinian medical societies, said a number of ambulances had been attacked.

“They attacked one of our ambulances and threatened others. They also prevented our crew from evacuating seriously wounded Palestinians to hospital. They have no respect for medical personnel as can be witnessed by the deadly attacks on them in Gaza,” Barghouti told The Daily Beast.

This particular settler attack has spread to many other villages and is more severe than most but attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property have been a daily occurrence for years as they try to force Palestinians off their land.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that these attacks spiked in 2023, under the most right-wing government in Israeli history, which includes several extremist settlers in the coalition.

Since Oct. 7, 2023, OCHA has recorded 727 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians.

While the current rampage by settlers was sparked by the killing of the young Israeli, their ongoing daily violence is also tied to the war on Gaza. The attack by Iran is likely to further exacerbate the situation in the West Bank and embolden the settlers as the world focuses on Iran’s strike on Israel.

Hamas leaders, meanwhile, have called for Palestinians to resist and fight the Israeli settler attacks.

Dr Barghouti, who is also the leader of the Palestinian National Initiative political party or Mubadara, sees the current situation as extremely volatile.

“The person who is making the situation so dangerous is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his fascist government. If it wasn’t for his provocations during the last few weeks we wouldn’t have seen this escalation,” Barghouti said.  » …
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