Nablus: Senior resistance fighter killed in Israeli army raid

Ibrahim al-Nablusi at the funeral of two Palestinian fighters killed by Israeli forces in Nablus in the occupied West Bank on 24 July 2022 (Issam Rimawi)

Shatha Hammad

Middle East Eye  /  August 9 , 2022

Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, the man most wanted by Israeli forces in the West Bank city, died from gunshot wounds along with two more Palestinians.

Israeli troops killed three Palestinians, including the senior resistance fighter Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, during a raid centred on a house in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday.

Al-Nabulsi, one of the Israeli army’s most-wanted men in the northern West Bank city, was shot during exchanges of fire with Israeli soldiers in the heart of Nablus’ old city. 

Al-Nabulsi was later pronounced dead in Rafidia Hospital, along with Islam Sobhi and Hussain Jamal Taha, bringing the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2022 to 129, including at least 34 children, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

At least 40 more Palestinians were wounded during the raid.

The Israeli army said it launched rocket-propelled grenades at the house where the fighters were barricading themselves in. It added that Al-Nabulsi was wanted for leading attacks against Israeli targets, including in the vicinity of Joseph’s Tomb, a major flashpoint in the city. 

Al-Nabulsi was a leading member of Fatah’s armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Israeli forces have attacked Al-Nabulsi several times previously, most recently on 24 July when he and a group of fighters were surrounded in a house in the al-Yasmina neighbourhood in Nablus’ old city. 

He managed to get out alive after heavy fighting, while two other fighters, Muhammad Azizi, 25, and Abdul Rahman Jamal Suleiman Sobh, 28, were killed. 

The first known attempt to apprehend Al-Nablusi is believed to have happened in February, during a deadly ambush in Makhfiya neighbourhood. He was initially thought to be among the three people killed that day before he emerged alive at their funeral.

Similarly, his whereabouts after the 24 July Al-Yasmina raid was only revealed when he showed up at Sobh and Azizi’s funerals, boosting his reputation in the city as an elusive fighter.

‘Protect our homeland’

Hundreds of Palestinian mourners gathered in and outside Nablus’ Rafidia Hospital ahead of the three fighters’ funeral procession.

Al-Nabulsi’s mother, addressing the crowd of angry supporters, mourned his death with ululations.

“Ibrahim triumphed,” she said, parting her fingers in a V for victory.

“My son, who is dearer to me than my own soul, has returned to his lord.”

Al-Nabulsi’s father said: “Ibrahim was hunting them, not the other way around. Whenever he heard about an Israeli army raid, he was the first to go out and confront them. This was his fate. We praise God”

Al-Nabulsi’s death triggered a wave of fury throughout the West Bank. Several cities have announced strikes and a day of mourning, including Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah and Bethlehem.

Student and activist groups have urged Palestinians to confront Israeli soldiers at various checkpoints across the West Bank. 

A voice message purportedly recorded by Al-Nabulsi minutes before his death was reported widely by local media, in which he urged Palestinians to resist Israel.

“I love you mother. My message to everyone is to protect our homeland. Do not give up your arms. I am barricaded now. I am going to be martyred,” he is purported to have said in the recording.

Mourners carry the body of Ibrahim al-Nabulsi who was killed by Israeli forces, during a funeral in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on 9 August 2022 (Reuters)

Leading Palestinian groups, including Fatah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, strongly condemned the killing of the three men and warned that it will lead to more confrontations with the Israeli army. 

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said that Israel is pushing closer to an “open confrontation” with the entire Palestinian people through its “all-out aggression that began in Jerusalem and then spread to Jenin, Gaza, and today in Nablus,” according to the official news agency Wafa.

He warned that if the “Israeli aggressions” continue, it will “ignite the region and will cause devastation that no one can bear the serious consequences of”.​

New momentum

Armed resistance in Nablus has largely faltered since 2007, after years of Israeli operations in coordination with the Palestine Authority to dismantle al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the leading resistance group in the city. 

But since the re-emergence of organized armed resistance in the city of Jenin 25km north, there has been a new momentum in Nablus, led this time by the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Quds Brigades (Saraya al-Quds).

The group announced the creation of the Nablus Brigade, similar to the Jenin Brigade that was formed last year.

While both groups say they are inspired by the Islamic Jihad movement, their members are affiliated with different Palestinian groups, including Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.  

Israeli security forces conduct near-daily raids in the West Bank and have killed more than 80 Palestinians so far this year.

On Friday, Israel launched what it called a “pre-emptive” aerial and artillery bombardment on the Gaza Strip. Fighters in the besieged coastal enclave fired hundreds of rockets in retaliation.

An Egypt-brokered ceasefire reached on Sunday ended the Israeli bombardment, which had killed 46 Palestinians, 16 of them children, and wounded at least 360, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Shatha Hammad is a Palestinian freelance journalist