Israel kills lawyer and laborer as military ramps up aggression

Palestinians protest against the Israeli invasion of the West Bank city of Nablus on 13 April 2022. 

Shadi Jarar’ah APA images

The Israeli military has killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Israel in under 48 hours.

A Palestinian lawyer was killed by Israeli occupation forces during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday morning while dropping his three nephews off to school.

Muhammad Hasan Assaf was fatally shot in the chest, making him the 12th Palestinian killed by Israeli fire since the beginning of the month.

The 32-year-old lawyer worked for the Palestinian Authority’s commission tasked with fighting Israel’s separation wall in the occupied West Bank. He lived in the Kafr Laqif village in the Qalqiliya governorate, southwest of Nablus.

Assaf “always fought the occupation in all areas of confrontation,” as well as in its courts, the group said in a statement mourning their colleague.

Another 10 Palestinians were injured, mostly by live Israeli fire, and one was run over by an Israeli military vehicle, according to the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry.

Israeli troops and settlers had invaded Nablus on Wednesday to supposedly repair damage done to Joseph’s Tomb, an archeological site considered sacred by Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Israeli settlers make regular forays to the site under heavy escort from the Israeli army.

At a briefing with Israeli soldiers ahead of the invasion, a military commander invoked the idea that “the Land [of Israel] was promised to Abraham our patriarch,” according to Tel Aviv daily Haaretz, as an apparent way to rile up his troops.

Worker killed

Elsewhere, a Palestinian worker was fatally shot by Israeli police in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday.

Israeli police claimed an officer had approached Abdullah Srour out of “suspicion.” During inspection, they said Srour allegedly pulled out a knife and attempted to stab the officer.

The officer, who was reportedly lightly wounded, shot Srour, killing him. The 40-year-old was from the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli police published an image they claim to be of the knife Srour used.

Israel has previously published a picture of a weapon that they claimed was used by a Palestinian they had killed, only for the photo to turn out to be several years old.

Srour’s family reportedly rejected the Israeli claim that he may have attempted to carry out an attack, and said he supported them by working on a construction site in Israel.

Tense weekend

Recent weeks have seen a spike in tensions across historic Palestine as Israel’s occupation apparatus ramped up its killing and arrest sprees of Palestinians.

This comes after Palestinians carried out several attacks inside Israel and the West Bank in apparent response to Israel’s ongoing military occupation and the system of apartheid it has erected to consolidate this.

Israeli raids have been particularly deadly in the Jenin area, where Israel is imposing severe restrictions and “effectively applying collective punishment to Palestinians,” rights organization Al-Haq said in a statement.

This weekend is expected to be particularly tense as the Jewish Passover holiday coincides with the second Friday of Ramadan.

The extremist Temple Mount Faithful Movement group is reportedly offering a “cash prize” to anyone who successfully performs rituals of sacrifice – such as slaying an animal – on the Jewish holiday in the al-Aqsa mosque compound, right-wing newspaper Israel Hayom reported.

Hamas warned that if those rituals were performed, they would “cross all red lines,” and would be considered a “direct assault on the beliefs and feelings of our people.”

The ultimate aim of the so-called Temple movement – openly declared by many of its adherents – is the destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock and their replacement with a Jewish temple.

However, Temple movement activists often obscure this goal and claim they merely want more access for Jews to pray at the site, framing the matter as an issue of equality and civil rights.

Following Hamas’ warning, the Israeli prime minister’s office denied that Israeli Jews planned to perform rituals of sacrifice at the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Analysts have speculated that if the recent round of Israeli killings, invasions and arrests continues, it won’t be long before Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza begin to respond.

Islamic Jihad has already lost some of its fighters in Israeli attacks in recent weeks.

It was Israel’s campaign to forcibly displace Palestinian families in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah that led to last year’s full-scale confrontation between Israel and Palestinians.

Hamas’ warning about provocations at the al-Aqsa compound should be taken seriously, especially since it was its military wing that originally issued the ultimatum on 10 May last year, demanding that Israel withdraw its forces from al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah, and release detainees.

When the deadline passed, Hamas launched rockets at Jerusalem, triggering an 11-day Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip that obliterated entire Palestinian families and razed residential buildings.


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.