TeaHere almost nothing is left of the Ottoman-era home in the old town of Nablus, where Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, an 18-year-old fighter with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, made his last stand against the Israeli army.
There are bullet holes in every inch of the remaining walls and ceilings; Witnesses said that after the encounter that lasted hours, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) used shoulder-launched rockets to open the metal doors. The missiles brought down the heavy stonework that crushed the hugely popular young “Lion of Nablus”, wanted for shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Nabulsi and two others were killed and 40 more people were injured in the massive August 9 raid, part of operation breakwater, a six-month-old campaign of IDF sorties, arrests, targeted killings and demolition of homes almost overnight in the occupied West Bank. Designed to drive out terrorists from al-Aqsa, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the offensive has grown into one of the largest Israeli military operations outside of the war in decades.
“The arrests happened last night. It is not safe to go out at night, you will be shot, as I was last year,” said Ali Rafiq Saba, 56, the owner of a restaurant at the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of the city, who took two Picked up shirt. He had glass marks on his torso during a visit to the Guardian last week.
“It’s a desperate place. Every youth here has a gun, and these attacks make them more determined to fight back.”
Operation Breakwater was launched in this spring in response to one of the Deadliest Waves of Palestinian Terrorist Attacks in Israel in Years, So far this year, 98 Palestinians – mostly armed men, but also many civilians – have been killed in the West Bank, a record seven years, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Hamas controlled. In Gaza StripIn August, a surprise three-day Israeli bombing campaign killed 51 other Palestinians, including 17 children.
Known as “mowing the grass”, this Israeli strategy has two goals: reducing the enemy’s ability to attack, and temporary deterrence. but instead of canceling Palestinian Armed resistance, Operation Breakwater is fueling more violence in the West Bank – and inspiring a new generation of fighters.
Two new armed groups have emerged over the past few months – the Nablus Brigade and the Tubas Brigade – and organized armed resistance has been growing steadily since the unrest in Jerusalem last May, which culminated in the scenes of the 11-Day War in Gaza. Intersectarian violence on the streets of Israel,
“Israel calls us terrorists, but throwing stones when they have guns is not enough. We also need guns for our safety,” said 17-year-old Mustafa, a regular visitor to the Yafa youth center in Balata.
His friend Mahmood, 21, said: “Our generation is not like our parents. They had to leave their home, they were afraid. He saw the peace process [in the 1990s]Perhaps they still believe that peace is possible.
“For us, we don’t think there is going to be peace. Fighting is the only solution.”
In a statement, the IDF said, “The counter-terrorism activity is based on accurate intelligence and ongoing situational assessment. In some instances, there was a rapid exchange of fire between IDF forces and terrorist operatives … It should be noted that Security forces use live fire only after all other options have been exhausted.
Nablus, an ancient city in the north of the West Bank, located in a valley between two mountains, has long been a center of Palestinian political activism. It saw some of the worst violence of the Second Intifada; The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist group affiliated with Fatah, the ruling force of the Palestinian Authority (PA), came into existence in 2000 amid the poverty of the Balata camp.
The group, which was designated as a terrorist organization by Israel and its Western allies, agreed in 2007 to disband and release their weapons in an agreement brokered by the PA. In response to continuing the IDF and settler attacksHowever, it has rebuilt and attracted young new recruits in recent years. While its command structure is secret, al-Aqsa now appears to operate independently of Fatah both in and around Nablus. janineAnother troubled city.
Since Operation Breakwater began, it has become clear that al-Aqsa is engaging in new, closer cooperation with other militias, such as Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigade, to repel the intense Israeli operation.
The mood in Nablus is tense and defiant. The city walls are covered with posters of dead fighters and civilians, and children wear necklaces bearing pictures of their slain friends. IDF has said it is considering using Armed Drones for the First Time in the West BankAdding to the sense that worse is yet to come.
The destroyed safe house of Nabulsi has become a place of pilgrimage: a steady stream of people come every day to see the place where the lion of Nabulsi was defeated, taking pictures and leaving flowers. Fearing spies, terrorists begin to block foreigners from entering the old city, as well as the huge Balata camp.
PA, which is widely seen in Palestinian society as colluding with Israel to repress both the armed and non-violent resistanceThere’s no power here. Fatah itself has also been divided between factions loyal to the PA’s aging and deeply unpopular chairman Mahmoud Abbas and those who believe it has failed to deliver any meaningful progress. Repressive regimes and rampant corruption have also undermined the confidence of the Palestinian people in their leaders.
For many in the city, the raid that allegedly killed Nabulsi with the help of PA’s security forces could prove to be a watershed moment. The killing of a 53-year-old male civilian on Tuesday during clashes between PA’s security forces and Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigade has heightened hostility towards the West Bank authority.
“Fatah, Hamas – they haven’t solved our problems. They don’t appeal to young people; we don’t feel like we belong to those movements. We need a different way of doing things,” Mahmoud said. “If we don’t defend our country, who will?”
According to Dr Hanan Ashrawi, a civil society activist and former member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, PA elections canceled last year – which would have been the first time since 2006 – quelled the new generation’s belief that “the political system is not fit for purpose”.
“There are young people who happily enter the political arena, roll up their sleeves and make a difference, but last year the door was closed. They are angry and more militant because they have seen nothing but bloodshed and pain. There is a sense of despair,” she said.
The manager of the Yafa Center, Faiz Arafat, has struggled for years to keep teenagers and youth away from the militias and gangsters ruling the camp, providing much-needed respite activities and workshops from slum-like situations.
However, the area is littered with firearms smuggled in from neighboring Jordan and stolen from IDF bases. Arafat estimates unemployment is running around 70%, and about half of the camp’s 30,000 residents are under the age of 18, making their job harder than ever.
“If Israel leaves us alone, maybe things can change. But in situations like this, collective punishment, it is inevitable that this is going to explode. I think Israel wants that to happen,” he Told.
“My son is 33 years old and he decided to join Islamic Jihad only a few months back. Why so? This is a result of the terrible things he has experienced living here. He felt there was no other option.”