Israel accused of killing Palestinian fighter in West Bank

Tamer al-Kilani, a founding member of Lions’ Den armed group in Nablus, was killed by a planted explosive device.

Members of the Israeli army deploy to demolish houses in in Rummanah town in the occupied West Bank, on August 8, 2022. - Israeli security forces arrested Subaihat, 20, and Yussef Al-Rifai, 19, in May 2022 on suspicion of killing three Israelis in the central town of Elad.
Israeli forces have been raiding the northern occupied West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus on a near-daily basis [File: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP] (AFP)

A Palestinian fighter has been killed in an explosion in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, with Israel not commenting on allegations from a Palestinian armed group that it was behind his assassination.

The Lions’ Den armed group said Tamer al-Kilani was killed when an explosive device planted on a motorcycle exploded as he walked by. The group described al-Kilani as one of its “fiercest fighters” and blamed Israel for his death.

The Palestinian health ministry said al-Kilani was killed overnight on Sunday in the Old City of Nablus in the north of the occupied West Bank.

The Lions’ Den is an armed group of young Palestinians that was formed last year out of frustration and disillusionment with the Palestinian leadership and its tight security ties with Israel,

“The treacherous occupation (Israel) put a sticky TNT device as the way to assassinate [Kilani]”, the group wrote on Telegram.

Palestinians gathered on Sunday around the charred remains of a motorcycle that was allegedly laden with explosives.

Translation: He was assassinated by the [Israeli] occupation at dawn…#Tamer_Kilani (Abu Yamen), a former prisoner and one of the leaders of the #LionsDen group, was one of the planners and participants in carrying out operations targeting the occupation forces.

Two videos provided by the Lions’ Den showed a person on a motorcycle parking and exiting the frame. The second video showed a man, believed to be al-Kilani, walking by a motorcycle and then what appears to be a blast.

“We promise and swear to reveal the details of the assassination of the martyr Tamer, and we promise the occupation and [Aviv] Kochavi a harsh, painful and painful response,” a statement by the armed group said, referring to Israel’s chief of army staff.

The group called on Palestinians to attend al-Kilani’s funeral, which will be held on Sunday afternoon in Nablus. A general strike has been called in the city.

The Israeli military declined to comment. It has been conducting nightly raids in the occupied West Bank since March in what it says is a bid to dismantle armed networks and thwart attacks.

An Israeli military official said al-Kilani was connected to a shooting last week that killed an Israeli soldier, as well as several other attacks in the northern West Bank. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the details with the media.

‘Revolutionary tide’

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and its military wing, Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said al-Kilani had been a member of its military wing when he was younger.

“The martyr was always at the forefront of activities and events, especially the activities of support for prisoners and confrontation with the occupation,” a statement by the party said.

It went on to say that al-Kilani spent eight years in Israeli prisons on charges of belonging to its military wing.

PFLP stressed that al-Kilani’s killing “will not succeed in stopping the revolutionary tide that our hero comrade contributed to launching along with his brothers and companions” but will initiate a response that will entail “further escalation of the resistance and confrontation with the occupation on all fronts”.

Al-Kilani is survived by his wife, 11-year-old son, and five-month-old daughter.

Israeli military operation

Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority, with which it has security coordination, of being unwilling to rein in what it describes as lawlessness in the occupied West Bank, particularly in Nablus and Jenin.

Many Palestinians oppose the security coordination, viewing it as a sign of the PA’s weakness and as a betrayal of the Palestinian people. Widely disenchanted with the PA, which is seen as undemocratic and corrupt, young Palestinians are joining an array of armed groups.

Israel’s defence minister Benny Gantz has said Lions’ Den has no more than 30 members and has promised that their days are numbered.

The Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank, codenamed Operation Breaking the Wave, began after a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed 19 people, while more recent attacks have killed several more.

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed this year by Israeli forces, the heaviest toll in the occupied West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the United Nations.

The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed during the raids have been armed fighters. But youths protesting against Israeli incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

On Saturday, Israeli forces killed Rabi Arafah Rabi, 32, at a checkpoint southeast of the city of Qalqilya.

The Palestinian health ministry said Rabi was hit by “a bullet to the head”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies