Two Palestinians killed, including ‘Lions’ Den’ member in ‘assassination’

Palestinians gather around the damaged remains of a motorcycle that was detonated to assassinate Tamer al-Kilani in Nablus (Shadi Jarar’ah - APA Images)

Yumna Patel

Mondoweiss  /  October 24, 2022

Two Palestinians were killed over the weekend in the occupied West Bank, including a member of the armed resistance group Areen al-Usud (The Lion’s Den) in Nablus.

Two Palestinians were killed over the weekend in the occupied West Bank, including a member of the armed resistance group Areen al-Usud (The Lions’ Den) in Nablus, in what the group has called a targeted assassination by Israel. 

Overnight on Sunday Tamer al-Kilani, a member of the Lions’ Den, was killed in the Old City of Nablus when a motorcycle allegedly rigged with explosives detonated as Al-Kilani was walking by, killing him. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed his death in a statement. 

Following Al-Kilani’s death, the Lions’ Den released a statement saying that the “treacherous occupation” rigged a motorcycle with a “TNT device” in what they described as an “assassination” on Al-Kilani. 

In a video released by the group on its Telegram channel, surveillance camera footage from the street where Al-Kilani was killed shows someone riding up to the street on a motorbike before parking the vehicle and leaving. 

In a separate video, another person presumed to be Al-Kilani can be seen walking past the motorbike. A moment after he passes the bike, an explosion can be seen going off, covering the security cameras in dust clouds. 

The Lions’ Den went on to say it would reveal the details of the assassination, and vowed a “harsh, painful response” to the Israeli occupation and Israeli army chief of staff Aviv Kochavi. 

The killing of Al-Kilani comes after weeks of an intensified Israeli military campaign, led by Kochavi, to quell armed resistance in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Last week, Israeli forces shot and killed Udai Tamimi, who had carried out an operation at a military checkpoint outside of the Shu’fat Refugee Camp, where he lived, that left one Israeli soldier dead. 

Tamimi was killed while he was carrying out a second operation, shooting towards soldiers stationed at the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the West Bank. Tamimi’s killing sparked anger in the occupied Palestinian territory, with the entire West Bank and Jerusalem going on strike the next day.

In response to Tamimi’s killing, the Lions’ Den called on Palestinians across Nablus and the West Bank to take to the streets in protest. Dozens of demonstrations were reported the next day. The group also carried out a string of operations in response to Tamimi’s killing, further agitating the Israeli military apparatus, which by that time, had been besieging Nablus for a week in an effort to strangle the group’s operations. 

The group’s ability to continue to operate out of the Old City and across the Nablus area virtually undetected and unhindered despite all the power of the Israeli military has only contributed further to their hero-like status amongst the Palestinian public, and the further humiliation of the military.

Which is why the killing of Al-Kilani comes at such a crucial moment. The Israeli military has yet to publicly comment or take responsibility for his killing. But Israeli media quoted Israeli officials  as saying that Al-Kilani was “directly involved in sending a Palestinian man to attempt to commit a ‘large-scale’ attack in Tel Aviv last month, among several more shooting attacks in the Nablus area,” the Times of Israel reported. 

The idea that the military can carry out targeted assassinations in the heart of the “Lions’ Den”, which has remained relatively untouchable for weeks, is likely to evoke a strong response from the group, and even the Palestinian street. In the meantime, Israeli military officials have vowed to continue its campaign against the it and other armed resistance groups. 

The day before Al-Kilani was killed, Israeli forces shot and killed 32-year-old Rabi Arafah Rabi at an army checkpoint near Qalqilya in the northwestern West Bank. The Palestinian Ministry said that Rabi was shot in the head. 

The Israeli army said it shot Rabi after attempting to detain him and other Palestinians for crossing into Israeli territory “illegally”, Al-Jazeera reported. The army claimed that they fired on the vehicle Rabi was traveling in – it was not specified if he was the driver – and attempted to flee, allegedly hitting a soldier. 

On the same day, Israeli forces shot and injured Mohammad Abu Qteish, 16, inside a football pitch in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. 

The army claimed that Qteish had attempted to stab an Israeli settler moments before. WAFA News Agency quoted an eyewitness as saying, “There was a training for sports paramedics in the stadium. We were surprised when an [Israeli] policeman entered the stadium and shot a teenager. We tried to provide him with first aid, but the policeman threatened to shoot us if we approached, then a large force of the Israeli police arrived and forced us out.”

The teenager was subsequently detained by Israeli forces. 

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the start of the year, the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied territories since 2015.  

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss