Israel’s assassination campaign continues among signs of proxy warfare in Nablus

Mariam Barghouti

Mondoweiss  /  September 28, 2022

Israel kills two Palestinians in 24 hours, including one resistance fighter, as confrontations also continue between Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.

On Saturday, September 23, Israeli forces shot and killed 36-year-old, Mohammad Awad in Beit Ijza near Jerusalem claiming he attempted a ramming attack against soldiers. The Palestinian foreign ministry reported that Awad was “defenseless” and did not pose a danger to his executioners.

Less than 24 hours later, Israeli forces assassinated 23-year-old resistance fighter, Sa’ed al-Koni, in Nablus. His body remains withheld by the Israeli military, an illegal practice that Israeli authorities continue to implement punitively. 

Another three resistance fighters were injured in the military ambush and managed to escape in a car, while the motorcycle which Al-Koni was riding erupted into flames. Al-Koni is the 18th Palestinian to be killed in Nablus by Israeli military operations.

Israel’s assassination strategy

Al-Koni is among a rising number of resistance fighters being targeted and killed by Israel as part of its on-going large-scale military operation, “Break the Wave.” The military operation, in coordination with Israeli intelligence, has resulted in the killing of more than 153 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in the span of nine months. 

The Israeli military continues to escalate its targeting of Palestinian resistance fighters in the West Bank after its large-scale military aggression on Gaza dubbed, Operation Breaking Dawn, which resulted in the killing of more than 49 Palestinians, including the extra-judicial assassination of some Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior leaders.

The Palestinian population is largely a non-combatant population. However, the criminalization of Palestinian guerilla combatants is also in contradiction to their rights under international law. As an occupied people, Palestinians have the right to resist occupation in armed combat, and the civilian population is under no obligation to owe allegiance to its occupying power. 

Despite this, Palestinians are neither afforded a chance at having their demands for ending Israeli occupation heard, nor are they provided protection against Israeli operations which continue in the assassination campaign taking place across Nablus.

At the same time, Palestinian resistance – whether it be non-violent and unarmed human rights defenders and activists or armed resistance fighters – continues to face a double assault. The first at the hand of the Israeli military, and the second at the hands of Palestinian Authority forces and leaders.

Caught between Israeli forces and proxy warfare

Al-Tawonthe location where Al-Koni was assassinated is the same area where the headquarters of the Palestinian Preventative Security (PSS) forces are based in Nablus. The PSS operates parallel to and in close collaboration with, Israel’s intelligence unit, the Shin Bet. The area Al-Koni was assassinated in may hold symbolic significance due to the events which took place in Nablus just days before his killing.

On September 19, the Palestinian Authority’s security forces detained two Palestinians from Nablus, Ameed Tbeileh, 21, and Musaab Shtayyeh, 30. Following their arrest by undercover Preventative Security forces, Palestinian armed resistance groups known by the name “Areen al-Aswad” demanded their release. In a series of statements and public appeals, the group warned that escalatory measures would be taken against PA forces, who are seen as direct collaborators with Israel, until the two detainees are released. 

For three consecutive days, live-fire exchanges between resistance groups and PA forces continued. Armed groups in other areas, namely the Jenin Brigade” based out of Jenin refugee camp, 98 km north of Ramallah, also condemned and joined confrontations against the PA’s collaboration with Israeli forces.

On Wednesday, September 28, in an apparent continuation of Operation Break the Wave, Israeli military forces invaded Jenin refugee camp and killed Abed El-Fathi Khazem, brother of Raed Khazem the Palestinian who carried an attack in Tel Aviv in April of this year. 

An additional three Palestinians, Mohamed Mahmoud Alona, Ahmed Nazmi Alawneh, and Mohamed Abu Na’sa, who confronted the military invasion were killed, and more than 50 Palestinians were injured.

Mariam Barghouti is the Senior Palestine Correspondent for Mondoweiss