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Israel Carries Out Extrajudicial Assassination Of 3 Palestinians

Israeli occupation forces carried out an assassination attack, killing three young Palestinians in Nablus, West Bank, spraying a civilian car full of bullets in broad daylight. Some are saying this will provoke war, but what was really behind the extrajudicial killings this Tuesday?

Palestinians gathered in their hundreds around the car in which Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, Adham Mabrouk and Muhammad Al-Dakhil were all killed by an Israeli special forces unit. The young Palestinian men from the village of Jabal al-Nar were traveling in a civilian capacity when a ‘Yam’ Israeli special forces unit opened fire on their vehicle from multiple directions, spraying bullets through the car’s windows. The Israeli special forces unit reportedly entered the Nablus area, in the West Bank, on a bus from Ramallah.

Three Palestinians killed were part of a locally organized armed militia group, which Israel accuses of carrying out 4 shooting attacks on Israeli occupation targets in the past weeks. None of the shootings resulted in any injuries or deaths. Such shooting attacks have become somewhat common over the past year, something which hasn’t happened as consistently in the West Bank since around the end of the second Intifada, in the mid-2000’s.

The Israeli military and its media apparatus claim triumphantly that they eliminated three “terrorists”, but in reality the assassination was extrajudicial and endangered local inhabitants of the area as Israeli forces sprayed bullets all over the car from multiple directions. This being said, it is a violation of international law for a state to sanction the murder of civilians who may have been involved in armed activity. It is the mark of a rogue regime to carry out such an attack and is designed to terrorize Palestinians into submission.

Israel has long refrained from carrying out such assassination attacks in broad daylight in the West Bank, committing these types of assassinations in Gaza and elsewhere instead. Now that the West Bank has become an environment in which armed groups have again began to rise, Israel is attempting to send a strong message. So far, the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank have failed to stop armed groups from forming in Jenin and Nablus, where they are the most active against the Israeli military. This is despite the large-scale house raids and arrest campaigns carried out by Israel and its partner the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Now, as a result of the assassination attack, Kataeb Shuhada al-Aqsa brigades [unofficial armed group, connected to Fatah], announced that “We assure that the blood of the martyrs will not go in vain and that the response will come, God willing, and this blood will be met with blood”. This as the Factional Coordination Committee of the Nablus Governorate announced the comprehensive strike. Hamas in the Gaza Strip also mourned the deaths of the three Palestinians killed and urged Palestinians to show up in large numbers to the funerals in order to send a message of unity against Israel.

What comes next is certainly a Palestinian response in some form, with some fearing a new war on Gaza as the result of a Hamas retaliation. Yet, strategically, now is not the time for Hamas or any of the armed groups in Gaza to open fire on Israel. The most strategically sound approach is to allow the West Bank Palestinian armed groups to respond and if the situation becomes unbearable for the people there, then retaliate in solidarity. If Hamas simply opens fire, then the entire situation will become about Gaza and the potential for armed rebellion in the West Bank may be quelled.

It is likely that other members of the armed cell, who were not assassinated today, will launch a retaliatory attack, however, and this may not be as calculating as the highly organized groups in Gaza. The reason for this is that in the West Bank the armed groups are very much localized and their violence is normally more sporadic than calculated. For instance, there has been shooting attacks every other night against Israeli outposts in the north of the West Bank, but it’s clear that there’s little planning put into these shooting attacks. The attacks are normally from a distance and consist of spraying bullets towards an Israeli military tower, which is designed to withstand such attacks and protect the soldiers.

From the Israeli military’s perspective, it is likely that they have committed this attack to send a clear message to the small armed groups in the West Bank; they wish to make it clear that they are willing to behave in a barbaric manner in order to combat the Palestinian attacks. It may well be an attempt to change the rules of engagement and the price that Palestinians will pay if they consider opening fire on Israeli military sites and illegal settlements. On top of this, it serves as a test to the armed groups in Gaza and will test the waters there. It is also possible that Israel is becoming even more careless about its international image and doesn’t mind an escalation in which they will be shown clearly to be violating international law. This could potentially be due to the recent developments with the Amnesty International Apartheid report and the suspension of the vote to give Israel observer status at the African Union.

Now, the next move will be from the West Bank and it is likely that an upsurge of violence could take place in the next few days. However, for the armed groups in Gaza to get involved, it really depends upon how great the uprising in the West Bank will be over this assassination.

Robert Inlakesh
Robert Inlakesh is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, Middle-East analyst & news correspondent for The Last American Vagabond.
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