A New Stage in the Repression of the Palestinian Uprising: The Liquidation of Palestinian Resistance Fighters (REVISED)

Fatah Fighter Hussein 'Abayat Assassinated in the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour by Israeli Helicopter Fire; Two Residents of Beit Sahour Killed, Seven Injured in the Israeli Attack 

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Hussein 'Abayat

Aziza Dannoun Joubran

Rahma Shaheen

By late October, Israel's military and political leadership reached the conclusion that the current Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip could not be won by military means, and that more massive Israeli military repression would only consolidate and perpetuate popular Palestinian protest on the one hand, and result in negative international reactions on the other. A solution to the current crisis, according to the Israeli consensus, must be obtained on the political level. The Palestinian leadership must be forced back to the negotiation table and made to accept the Israeli-United States defined conditions of the Oslo "peace process", which it had rejected in Camp David in July. This political effort is to be supported by an intensive Israeli media campaign aimed at discrediting the Palestinian leadership, and by a new military-economic strategy able to lead a silent and effective low-intensity war of attrition against the Palestinian uprising at minimal cost. 

Over the last week, Israeli, Arab, and international media reports outlined major components of the new Israeli war of attrition (see for example: Ron Ben Yeshai in Yediot Aharonot, 3-11-00; Al-Sharq Al-Al-Awsat, London, 31-10-00). Stage one of the new Israeli military plan includes steps aimed at tightening Israeli control over points of confrontation near Israeli army bases, settlements, and checkpoints (establishing permanent positions for snipers on hill tops; demolishing walls and bulldozing orchards and trees, potential hiding places for Palestinian fighters); measures aimed at tightening the siege of the Palestinian civilian population (closure of roads, disrupting telecommunications); and the fortification of Israeli settlements and vehicles used by settlers and military. The second stage of the new Israeli military plan targets organized Palestinian resistance fighters. According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat relying on Israeli sources, Israel's military intelligence has drawn up a list of some 400 Palestinian fighters who are to be assassinated or arrested, by means of shooting from helicopters and undercover units operating in areas under control of the Palestinian Authority.  

Today's events in the Bethlehem area indicate that the new Israeli strategy is operative. Already in the morning, Israeli radio news reported the assassination of a Fatah fighter from 'Aida refugee camp/Bethlehem. Immediate investigations by Palestinian activists did not confirm such an event. While the announcement might thus have been no more than a warning directed at the activists, there is concern that the victim might be a yet unidentified Palestinian worker attempting to by-pass an Israeli checkpoint and mistakenly singled out and assassinated by an Israeli undercover unit. Later today, at around 12:00 p.m., Hussein 'Abayat, a 37 year old Fatah activist, accompanied by three colleagues, was driving his private car through the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour, located in an area controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Four Israeli military helicopters appeared in the sky over the town, and his car was attacked by missiles shot from one of the helicopters. Hussein 'Abayat was killed immediately. His three colleagues in the car, passengers in a second car, as well as Beit Sahour residents present in the street and in homes next to the site of the attack were injured. Some of the injured persons were taken for treatment to Al-Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala, others - among them the critically injured Aziza Dannoun Joubran, were taken by ambulance to the Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem. After passing the Israeli checkpoint near Gilo settlement, the ambulance was shot at several times by a yet unidentified source from the direction of the settlement. Israel has confirmed the assassination of the Hussein 'Abayat in the Beit Sahour air-raid. Two of the injured residents of Beit Sahour, Mrs. Aziza Dannoun Joubran and Mrs. Rahma Shaheen were reported to have died from injuries at press time. 

In face of this new stage of Israeli repression and the rapidly deteriorating situation in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories, BADIL Resource Center calls for: 

  • Immediate and efficient steps towards an INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION of Israeli violence and human rights violations and the deployment of an INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION FORCE lead by the United Nations as urgent measures required in order to enforce standards of international law and UN resolutions pertaining to Palestinian rights in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories;
  • BADIL calls upon Mrs. Mary Robinson, High Commissioner of the UN Commission on Human Rights, to personally investigate the new Israeli methods of low-intensity warfare in the meetings with Israeli officials conducted during her current mission to Palestine/Israel.

For more information about the Palestinian uprising and Israeli repression, as well as international documents and mechanism relevant for the protection of Palestinian rights, see Intifada2000