“By this killing in Nablus and Gaza, the Israeli occupation has thrown open the doors of its own inferno,” an al-Aqsa Brigades spokesman calling himself Abu Mahmoud said in a statement following Israel’s overnight raid on Nablus. Israeli forces stormed the Nablus’ Old City of Nablus in the early hours of Dec. 26, raiding several homes and killing three men affiliated with Fatah’s military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Sources said two of the men were “killed in cold blood” by soldiers in their homes in the Old City. The two were identified as 38-year-old Raed Sukarji, and Ghassan Abu Sharkh, whose brother Nayif was a former leader of the al-Aqsa Brigades in Nablus and was killed by the Israeli army several years ago.
The deputy governor of Nablus, Anan Al-Atira, confirmed that Anan Subih, 33, was also killed. She said Subih was a former Al-Aqsa Brigades fighter who had received full amnesty from Israel after he turned in his weapons, signed a form swearing to renounce violence and spending months in Palestinian police protective custody while Israel approved the deal.
Sukarji and Abu Sarkh were evacuated to the Rafidia Hospital with several bullet wounds each in the chest. Sukarji’s wife was also taken to hospital to be treated for shrapnel injury to her legs. The al-Aqsa spokesman pledged: “The Israelis will regret what they did because our retaliation will come very soon.”
Israeli media claimed all three “were known by Israeli authorities to be involved in a shooting attack in a West Bank settlement Thursday which killed Rabbi Meir Hai,” though no source was noted. An organization calling itself the Imad Mughniya Group and proclaiming affiliation to al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility in an e-mail for the shooting.
“Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Group of the Martyr Imad Mughniya claim firing on a settler car in the north of the West Bank between the settlement Shave Shomron and Enab,” the message reportedly said.
In what is being billed as a response to the Dec. 24 incident, Israeli forces imposed a curfew on the Ras al-Ain neighborhood before dawn, closed off all the exits from the Old City and laid siege to the home of the Sukarji home.
Director of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees in Nablus Ghassan Hamdan told Ma’an News Agncy that three Palestinian homes were besieged in the raid. He confirmed that Sukarji was shot in the head and chest “before the very eyes of his wife.” While the second man, Abu Sharkh, was removed from his home and shot outside.
Sukarji’s niece, 20-year-old Hind, said that “Israeli forces ransacked Raed Sukarji’s home and shot him in front of his pregnant wife and two children, when his wife Tahani, 30, tried to defend him, she was shot in the feet.” She also noted that her uncle had been released from Israeli prison in January 2009, and that he was on the waiting list for enrollment in the Palestinian Authority security services.
The home of Anan Subih in Ras El’ein was the third targeted location, where troops reportedly opened fire and fired grenades on the building before entering—then ransacked it as it burned. Witnesses added that Israeli forces did not allow Palestinian fire fighters to access the area and put out the blaze.
The governor of Nablus, Jibreel Al-Bakri, described what happened in Nablus as a “crime in cold blood.” He accused the Israeli government of escalating the violence in Palestine in order to avoid its commitment to the peace process. The Israeli military had no comment on the issue as of press time. (Ma’an News Agency, Dec. 26)
Three youth were also killed overnight in Gaza, when Israeli forces keeping siege opened fire on a group of young men near the Erez crossing. Palestinian sources said the victims were likely scavenging for construction materials near the border, as Gazans continue to build mud-brick homes out of recycled cement from the rubble left from the last Israeli war on the Strip. (Ma’an News Agency, Dec. 26)