A NEW investigation has revealed that Israel used an assassination tactic, not seen in the occupied West Bank for more than 15 years, in the recent killing of three Palestinian youths.
Last Tuesday, Israeli officers in two civilian vehicles cut off three Palestinians in their car in the city of Nablus in broad daylight and directly opened fire at them from short range.
The assault left the bodies of the victims, identified as Ashraf al-Mabsalt, Adham Mabrouka, and Muhammad al-Khalil, riddled with gunshots.
Israel claimed that the three men were ‘militants’ responsible for shooting attacks. Also, the Shin Bet spy agency alleged that the Palestinians were killed in a clash with Israeli forces.
However, a joint Intercept, Local Call, and +972 Magazine investigation pointed to a planned assassination in an area under Palestinian Authority control.
The heinous Israeli crime conjured memories of the regime’s extrajudicial assassinations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 2000-2005.
The leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement says the armed struggle against the occupying Israeli regime will continue unabated across the Palestinian territories.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called for an international probe into the killings and held the Tel Aviv regime regime and prime minister Naftali Bennett ‘fully and directly responsible for this crime’.
‘The silence of the international community to Israeli violations and crimes provides a cover to these criminal acts and encourages the Israeli occupier to continue in its open warfare against the Palestinians,’ it said in a statement.
Similarly, al-Haq, a West Bank-based Palestinian human rights group, said the killings amount to war crimes.
‘It’s an extrajudicial execution,’ al-Haq general director Shawan Jabarin said, adding that his group had found no evidence that the Palestinians ever fired or attempted to fire a shot.
‘The three persons were known by the Israelis, and they came merely to kill them,’ he noted.
The head of the political bureau of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement vows revenge for Israeli assassination of three young Palestinian men in the city of Nablus.
The families of the victims said the carnage was the realisation of the threats made against them in recent months by the Shin Bet.
Muhammad al-Khalil’s father, Raed, recalled that one Shin Bet officer had called his family over a dozen times and issued threats.
‘The last call was two months ago,’ said al-Khalil. ‘He said they would send the Yamam unit (the Israeli border police’s counter-terror unit) to assassinate my son.’
Adham Mabrouka’s brother, Ahmad, described a similar experience of threats from the Shin Bet in the run-up to the targeted killing.
‘When I met them face to face,’ he said of the Israeli security officers, ‘they threatened to harm the family and raid our house.’
In at least 11 phone calls, a Shin Bet officer said that Adham would be executed, he added.
‘They said if he didn’t hand himself over, it will get to the level of assassination, and mentioned the Yamam unit,’ recalled Ahmad. ‘I realised he was going to die, but not in that way. He has 35 bullets in his body.’
- At the United Arab Emirates’ behest, Israel has reportedly been lobbying the administration of US President Joe Biden to designate Yemen’s popular Anasarullah movement as a ‘terrorist group’.
Former US president Donald Trump added Anasarullah to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organisations during his final days in office, but his successor, Biden, reversed the decision.
Last year, the US Department of State reversed a last-minute decision by the ex-administration, which put the Houthis on the US list of ‘foreign terrorist groups’ and subjected them to sanctions.
Following the escalation in Yemen’s counterattacks against the UAE last month, Biden said a re-designation of Ansarullah was ‘under consideration’.
On Tuesday, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel that Abu Dhabi has stepped up its lobbying for the blacklisting of the Yemeni group and enlisted Tel Aviv in the effort.
Israel has told American officials that re-imposing the designation would curb Iran’s regional influence, the official added. ‘We’re not doing this only for the Emiratis. We believe such a step is in everyone’s interest.’
Additionally, an Israeli source familiar with the matter said that the US National Security Council has warmed to the idea of re-designating Ansarullah, while others in the Biden administration remain more hesitant.
Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, who heads the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was looking ‘very carefully’ at the re-designation issue and was in conversation with other officials.
However, many rights groups have warned that such a move could jeopardise humanitarian work in Yemen and endanger the population.
Saudi Arabia launched a devastating war on its southern neighbour in March 2015 in collaboration with a number of its allied states and with arms and logistics support from the US and several Western countries.
The aim was to return to power the former Riyadh-backed regime and crush the popular Ansarullah movement which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective government in Yemen.
The war has stopped well shy of all of its goals, despite killing tens of thousands of Yemenis and turning the entire Yemen into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Yemeni army and its allied fighters from the Popular Committees have in recent months gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in Yemen.
In January, the Yemeni forces launched three rounds of retaliatory missile and drone strikes deep inside Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- The Taliban have warned the United States that they will be forced to reconsider their policy toward Washington if it refuses to free Afghanistan’s assets.
US President Joe Biden issued an executive order authorising the release of half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan funds held in the US for humanitarian aid to be made available for a possible payment to victims of the September 11 attacks.
The move drew an angry response from the Taliban, who described the seizure as ‘theft’ and a sign of the US’s ‘moral decay’.
‘If the United States does not deviate from its position and continues its provocative actions, the Islamic Emirate (the Taliban government) will also be forced to reconsider its policy towards the country’ the Taliban said in a statement signed by deputy spokesman Inamullah Samangani on Monday. ‘The 9/11 attacks had nothing to do with Afghanistan,’ it added.
‘For the United States to avoid international reproach and not to damage its relations with the Afghan people, it must relinquish its decision,’ the statement added.
Afghanistan has about $9 billion in assets overseas, including the $7 billion in the United States. The rest is mostly in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Switzerland.
International lawyer and political analyst Barry Grossman says the US move to block Afghan assets is an illegal act and an example of what he calls American piracy.
The US had announced the freeze days after the Taliban took over power in the country on August 15 last year. Ever since, the Taliban have warned of dire economic consequences, and Afghan banks say they are facing a money shortage.
The United Nations also warned in October last year that without financial aid or humanitarian relief, Afghanistan was on a ‘countdown to catastrophe.’
UN agencies have predicted near universal poverty in Afghanistan, with almost three-fourths of the population reliant on food and other aid.
Washington, however, said late last year that it had no plans to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets.