Palestinians protest against Basil al-Araj’s killing

Politician condemns Basil al-Araj’s ‘assassination’, a day after Israeli shooting which also injured two Palestinians.

West Bank
Basil Araj was shot dead at his home on the outskirts of Ramallah [Musa Al Shaer/AFP]

Protesters have marched in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank calling for justice after Israeli security forces killed a 31-year-old Palestinian activist.

The march came late on Monday, a day after Basil al-Araj was killed by Israeli troops in a house in al-Bireh, on the outskirts of Ramallah.

Two other Palestinians were wounded by gunfire in subsequent clashes with Israeli security forces, according to Palestinian hospital sources.

Seen as “close to Islamists”, Araj, who was from al-Walaja in Bethlehem, had spent several months in a Palestinian Authority prison, according to a Palestinian security source.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian non-violence activist and the head of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, told Al Jazeera that Araj’s death was “nothing but an act of extrajudicial killing and assassination”.

Israeli version disputed

The Israeli police said on Monday that the security personnel were there to arrest Araj and later found two firearms in the house.

In remarks on Twitter, Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said: “Palestinian terrorist killed in border police CT [counterterrorism] operation in Ramallah was planning an attack against civilians and security forces.”

Another Israeli police spokesperson said Araj was “the head of a cell planning attacks against Israeli targets”.

However, Khalid al-Araj, an uncle, said Araj did not fit the typical profile of an attacker.

He said his nephew was an intellectual who devoted much of his time to reading and research, particularly about the history and geography of Palestine.

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He said Araj never belonged to any particular faction but believed that intellectuals should express their thoughts in action and not only words.

For his part, Barghouti, the independent Palestinian politician, said he visited the house in Ramallah where the Israelis said a firefight occurred.

“The said there was a fight and clash, but what I found was that the only side that was shooting was the Israelis,” he told Al Jazeera.

“If Araj had any chance to shoot, he would not have been able to shoot more than one bullet. The house was completely bombarded with Israeli bullets. The Israeli side is trying to claim there was shoot back.”

‘No safety or security’

Barghouti said it was “really amazing” that the Israeli army entered the centre of Ramallah, which is supposed to be under the Palestinian Authority’s control.

Regular raids by the Israeli army and police units in the occupied West Bank are controversial because they often involve incursions into Area A, which was designated as solely under the remit of Palestinian security forces in the Oslo peace accords.

“Usually the Israeli army claim that they inform before entering the area, but they came into the centre of Ramallah, which shows that they have full military control there,” Barghouti said.

“This means that there is no safety or security for any Palestinian anywhere.”

Since October of 2015, more than 265 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces – either during alleged attacks on Israelis or in clashes with Israeli forces, according to official Palestinian figures.

Israeli authorities say at least 47 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians over the same period.

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies