Eleven Palestinians were killed and more than 80 wounded by gunfire as Israeli soldiers raided Nablus in the broad daylight of Wednesday morning, in what the army said was an operation based on the intelligence of an imminent threat from Palestinian militants.
Only 48 hours later, a Palestinian family gathered to take snaps in the ruins of the house that has become a memorial among the ancient Ottoman mosques and cobbled streets of Nablus' Old City.
Men stand on the rubble of a house that was demolished during an Israeli army raid in the Old City of Nablus, on February 24, 2023. AFP
A sabre of light cut through a gaping chasm in the ceiling -- an artificial porthole left by an Israeli rocket fired during the operation.
"How is it possible that... hundreds of soldiers armed with rifles and missiles enter an area inhabited by 200,000 unarmed civilians in order to arrest or kill a person?" asked Nasser Mahamadeh.
A man and a child stand inside a house that was demolished during an Israeli army raid in the Old City of Nablus, on February 24, 2023. AFP
"The people here are all with the resistance, and these incidents make the resistance more powerful and make people turn more towards the resistance," the 57-year-old said as he surveyed the destruction.
"If there were 10 resistors before, now they will become 1,000 resistors, and so on."
A spokesperson for the Israeli military said that "about 150 personnel" were involved in Wednesday's raid.
Nablus' Old City has become a focal point of increased tension in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the emergence of a new militant group known as the Lions' Den last year.
Israel has accused the group of carrying out attacks on Israeli targets, including the killing in October of a soldier in the West Bank.
Wednesday's raid was just the latest in a string of deadly military operations in the West Bank which have seen scores of Palestinians killed.
In January, 10 Palestinians including children were killed in a raid further north of the Jenin refugee camp. Another five, alleged Hamas militants, were killed in an operation in the Dead Sea city of Jericho.
Among the dead in Nablus on Wednesday was 72-year-old Adnan Abu Ashraf.
Outside his bolted shop, his cousin Umm Tayseer al-Asalia, 60, described how he did not return after he headed "to the municipality to complete some paperwork".
"Killing the leaders of the resistance in Nablus does not weaken the resistance, but rather strengthens it, because there are always new youths joining the resistance," she said.
Ameed al-Masri, a local Fatah official, said the fighters even had the support of the representatives of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' secular Fatah movement.
"The Lions' Den is a group of young people from various factions who chose the struggle, independent of any faction," he said.
"We in Fatah respect that. We are with anyone who wants to resist the occupation," he added.
The Islamic Jihad said one of its commanders was also among those killed in Wednesday's Israeli raid.
Yet while Israel's military lauds its own efforts to fight the group, in the Old City, locals said that regardless of how many fighters they claimed to have killed, Nablus' resistance had only hardened.
Children stand on the rubble of a house that was demolished during an Israeli army raid in the Old City of Nablus, on February 24, 2023. AFP
Asalia pointed to her eight-year-old grandson, Karim.
"He asked me to buy him a gun because he wanted to join the Lions' Den and become hunted like the martyr Ibrahim al-Nabulsi," she said, referring to the group's late leader, as her shy grandchild scuttled away.
Surrounded by rubble, a furious Mahamadeh cleaned the dust off his boots.
"The Lions' Den is an idea," he said.
"This idea is now spreading to all of Palestine, and every person has become a resistance fighter."
In a statement posted to the Telegram internet channel late on Thursday, the Lions' Den claimed that "nearly 50" more fighters had joined the group since Wednesday's raid.
AFP was unable to confirm the authenticity of the statement.