Udai Tamimi’s last stand

Yumna Patel & Faris Giacaman

Mondoweiss  /  October 20, 2022

Udai Tamimi, the Palestinian resistance fighter responsible for killing an Israeli soldier at Shu’fat military checkpoint, conducted yet another shooting operation against Israeli troops before being shot and killed after ten days on the run.

It was a manhunt that lasted nearly two weeks, finally coming to a close as Udai Tamimi continued to fire his handgun at Israeli soldiers even as he lay on the ground in his final death throes. 

On October 8, Tamimi carried out a drive-by shooting at Shu’fat military checkpoint, killing an Israeli soldier before retreating unharmed and disappearing into Shu’fat refugee camp. The hunt that ensued was one of the most wide-ranging search-and-arrest campaigns in recent memory, as the Israeli army laid siege to the entire refugee camp and the neighboring town of Anata.

The communal solidarity and popular efforts to combat the army’s search were relentless, as the people of Shu’fat refugee camp launched a civil disobedience campaign, clashing with the army in the streets, planting obstacles in the roads to impede army movement, and attempting to provide popular cover for Tamimi by having all the young men of the camp shave their heads to resemble the wanted resistance fighter’s appearance. For ten days, Tamimi was not only able to evade capture, but managed to leave the camp undetected in what appears to be a spectacular security failure of the Israeli security apparatus.

In the late hours of Wednesday night, October 19, Tamimi reappeared far away from home, at the entrance of the illegal Jewish settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, where he opened fire on the soldiers standing guard at the settlement’s entrance, wounding one according to the admission of the Israeli army.

A video circulating on social media shows Tamimi’s final moments, as he continues to shoot at the guards for thirty seconds even after sustaining several bullet wounds and falling to the ground, before he was finally shot and killed.

Call from the Lion’s Den

Hours after Tamimi’s death was reported, the Nablus-based armed resistance group Areen al-Usud (the Lions’ Den) put out a statement saluting the slain Tamimi and calling on Palestinians in Nablus and across the West Bank to go “out on the rooftops, in the streets and everywhere to salute the hero of Palestine” at 12:30am on October 20th. And Palestinians heeded their calls. 

In the cities of Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and towns and villages across the West Bank, Palestinians took to the streets, chanting in support of Tamimi and the Lion’s Den, vowing to confront the Israeli occupation and continue in the path of Tamimi. Palestinians in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip also took to the streets to denounce the killing of Tamimi.

In the Shu’fat refugee camp, where Tamimi was from, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets after his killing, in a show of support for Tamimi and Palestinian armed resistance. Clashes erupted in several locations in the West Bank, as Israeli forces suppressed Palestinian demonstrators with tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.

The Lion’s Den, a relatively new resistance group seemingly birthed after the killing of Ibrahim al-Nabulsi this summer, has soared in popularity and influence across the West Bank and Jerusalem in recent weeks, as its members have continued to claim responsibility for dozens of shooting operations targeting Israeli military targets across the West Bank.

Vowing retaliation for the killing of Tamimi, who was not a known affiliate of the group, the Lion’s Den said it would respond before dawn on Thursday. By 4 a.m. Thursday morning, the group had released another statement saying it had carried out at least three operations overnight, firing towards three separate Israeli military positions in the Nablus area in the northern West Bank. 

Palestinian media outlets also reported that shots were fired at around 12:30 a.m. towards the illegal Meirav Kibbutz east of Jenin, just across the Green Line. The Lion’s Den had not claimed responsibility for the operation, indicating that other armed groups in the occupied West Bank were responding to the group’s call for collective retaliation.

“The blood of Udai Tamimi and the martyrs of Palestine has become fuel for a volcano that only God will extinguish,” the group said. “We say to the occupier, we will see who will besiege whom,” the statement continued, seemingly referring to the nine-day long blockade of the Nablus district, which has been ongoing since the Lion’s Den claimed responsibility for an operation on October 11 that left one Israeli soldier dead. 

General strike as Palestinians join the call

Following calls by the Lion’s Den for a “day of rage” against the occupation on Thursday, Palestinian political factions joined together to announce that a general strike would be held across the West Bank and Jerusalem on Thursday in mourning over the killing of Tamimi. 

Local businesses, schools, universities, government offices, and public transportation networks were completely shut down on Thursday, as millions of Palestinians across the West Bank and Jerusalem participated in the strike.

The factions also urged Palestinians to take to the streets and confront the Israeli military and occupation over the killing of Tamimi. Demonstrations are expected to sweep across the West Bank and Jerusalem on Thursday and Friday, as Palestinians respond to the calls. 

Tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem have reached a boiling point, after weeks of Israeli military and settler violence across the occupied territory have resulted in the killing of 17 Palestinians since the start of October. 

Udai purportedly left behind a final handwritten will, the image of which has circulated on social media.

These are the words he left behind:

“I am the wanted Udai Tamimi, from the camp of martyrs, Shu’fat. My operation at Shu’fat military checkpoint was a mere drop in the roiling ocean of struggle. I know that I will be martyred sooner or later, and I know that I did not liberate Palestine with this operation. But I carried it out with a clear objective, that the operation will move hundreds of youth to pick up the rifle after I am gone.

Udai, the hunted 10/11.”

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss

Faris Giacaman is the Managing Editor for Mondoweiss