RAMALLAH: Undercover Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the first day of Ramadan, raising fears that there will be no letup in the Palestinian bloodshed during the month of fasting and reflection.
Israeli forces stormed the northern city of Tulkarem. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that 25-year-old Amir Abu Khadija was shot multiple times in the head and legs. The Tulkarem branch of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed Abu Khadija as its leader.
The Israeli military said Abu Khadija was wanted for recent shooting attacks on Israeli settlements and security forces. Troops raided his hideout apartment in Tulkarem and shot and killed Abu Khadija when he drew his gun, the military said, adding that the army confiscated an M-16 assault rifle and the car he allegedly used to carry out drive-by shooting attacks. Security forces said they also arrested another member of the militant group.
The militant group said Abu Khadija died in an “armed clash” with Israeli forces. Images of his blood-soaked body and his trashed apartment circulated online, as angry Palestinians mourned the first “martyr” of the holy month, which began Thursday in the Mideast.
The killing brought to 90 the number of Palestinians killed by the Israelis since the beginning of the year.
The Fatah movement and the Palestinian factions in Tulkarem announced a day of the commercial strike to mourn the killing.
Hamas said: "The occupation's targeting of our heroic resistance fighters will not stop the march of resistance, and our people will not be intimidated while we are in the blessed month of Ramadan, the month of holy wars and victories. We will continue our glorious revolution by targeting the fascist occupation forces.”
The Islamic Jihad movement said: "This heinous crime, on the morning of the first day of Ramadan, confirms the policy of the occupation and its fascist government to continue its aggression and desecration.
“The pure blood of this heroic fighter will fuel more flames of the uprising, which will spread in all arenas, despite the size of the sacrifices.”
Eleven Palestinians were arrested during Thursday's Israeli campaign of incursions and searches in the West Bank. Clashes occurred in some areas.
The Palestinian Prisoners Club reported that arrested Palestinians were transferred for interrogation about their participation in popular resistance.
Palestinian sources said that the Israeli escalation of killings, arrests, and incursions into cities during Ramadan contradicted what was agreed upon at the Sharm El-Sheikh summit on March 19.
Maj. Gen. Adnan Al-Damiri (retired), a former spokesman for the Palestinian security services, who is from Tulkarem, told Arab News that a state of sadness and pain prevailed in the city after the killing of Abu Khadija.
He accused the Israeli army of escalating the killings of Palestinians to achieve imaginary victories and achievements. "What other mission can the Israeli occupation army carry out other than killing the Palestinians?" he said.
In another development, the Palestinians expressed joy over the victory of Palestinian prisoners in their talks with the Israeli prison administration, which acquiesced to their demands and backed down from implementing the hawkish Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's restrictive regulations against them.
The Supreme National Emergency Committee for prisoners said the prisoners forced the prison administration to stop the arbitrary measures against them, "thanks to their unity and the support of our people for them." It added that the Israeli occupation "must realize that the prisoners are not alone. They are not easy prey for every passerby on our land."
The Commission for the Affairs of Detainees and Ex-Prisoners and the Prisoner’s Club announced late on Wednesday that 2,000 prisoners had suspended their planned Ramadan hunger strike after the prison administration withdrew the arbitrary punitive measures against them.
Since Feb. 14, prisoners have been protesting after the prison administration announced the implementation of harsh measures — including rationing water, reducing shower times, keeping bathrooms locked and providing stale bread for prisoners to eat — at the behest of Ben-Gvir.
Qadoura Faris, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, told Arab News that what happened was an "outstanding achievement" for the Palestinian prisoners against Ben-Gvir and his "extremist racist behavior and threats."
Faris said he met US diplomats from the embassy in Jerusalem who pressured the Israeli side, pointing out that the Israeli security services and government officials were aware that Ben- Gvir's policies against Palestinian security prisoners were not an Israeli security need but rather "a reflection of Ben-Gvir's extremist racist ideology."
For his part, Ben-Gvir said on Thursday: "My policy is effective, and the loss that will befall the prisoners if the strike continues will be great."