Sources in the West Bank and Gaza have confirmed that six Palestinian men in their early twenties were killed this morning by Israeli occupation forces. Three of the killings took place in Nablus, in the West Bank; the other three took place near the Beit Hanoun crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel. The men have been named as Ghassan Abu Sharkh, Anan Subh and Raid Al-Sarkarji, all from Nablus, and Muhammad Jumuah, Hani Sulaiman Abu Ghazal and Bashir Sulaiman Abu Daheel from Al-Badawiya in Gaza.
The killings happened a day before the first anniversary of Israel's brutal assault against Gaza in which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, one-third of them children. Thirteen Israelis died in the three-week long bombardment and invasion.
The sources in Gaza say that the group of men in Gaza collecting scrap metal to sell when they were killed by an Israeli air strike just after dawn this morning. A fourth individual escaped as in been questioned by the authorities in Gaza. The ruling party in Gaza, Hamas, said that the killings demonstrate the "bloody mentality of the Israeli occupation".
All three of the men killed in Nablus were members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military wing of Fatah. One of the other men killed in Nablus, Raid Al-Sarkaji, was released from an Israel occupation prison just six months ago after serving a sentence of six years. Sources were unable to confirm why he had been in prison but it is known that he was not on any wanted list issued by Israel.
The Israeli occupation forces have claimed that the men killed in Nablus were responsible for the shooting of an Israeli colonist-settler two days ago on one of the settler-only roads built across the occupied territory by Israel in defiance of international law. In a statement, Hamas has said that the killings expose the "disgraceful collaboration" between the western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, US General Keith Dayton's forces and the Israeli occupation forces. "At a time when the authority in Ramallah claims to be improving security in the occupied West Bank on behalf of the occupation," the spokesman said, "it is collaborating with the occupation, including Dayton's forces, in the killing of Palestinian civilians."
General Dayton is in Occupied Palestine training the security forces of President Abbas, which are widely regarded as being in place to police the West Bank on behalf of the occupation, not for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
Israel has not yet released for burial any of the bodies of the men killed. A statement from the occupation forces is expected later today.