RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian activist early Monday morning, culminating a two-hour-long gun battle in the Ramallah area of the central occupied West Bank, after Israeli forces had been pursuing the man since he was released from Palestinian prison last September.
The raid sparked clashes, which left two Palestinians shot and injured by Israeli forces. No Israelis were injured in the incident.
Israeli police identified the slain man as Basel al-Araj , who was wanted for “planning terror attacks against Israelis.”
Al-Araj was detained without charges or explanation by Palestinian security forces in April last year along with Haitham Siyaj and Muhammad Harb. The controversial case made headlines when the three men joined three other detainees in a hunger strike in Palestinian prison, amid reports of torture and mistreatment.
After being released in September, Palestinian activists had feared that Israeli forces would immediately detain the six men, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been widely criticized for its security coordination with Israel through what critics have called a “revolving door policy" of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.
Muhammad Harb and Haitham Siyaj, along with two of the other hunger striking detainees Muhammad al-Salamin and Seif al-Idrissi, were eventually detained by Israeli forces and ordered to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, while a video was released by Israeli media showing Israeli forces beating Siyaj in custody.
However, Israeli forces were unable to immediately apprehend al-Araj, and the months-long manhunt continued until the Monday morning raid, when forces from the Israeli army, Israeli border police, Israeli intelligence, and Israel’s counter-terrorism unit surrounded a house in the outskirts of the refugee camp of Qaddura, where al-Araj was allegedly staying.
Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that “once Israeli forces arrived at the place, the Palestinian terrorist opened fire at Israeli forces, causing an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian terrorist, leading to his death.”
Al-Samri noted that no Israeli soldiers were injured in the shootout.
Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that gunfire was exchanged between Israeli forces and a Palestinian man for around two hours until he ran out of ammunition, after which Israeli forces raided the house and “executed” him by shooting him at close range with several bullets.
Israeli forces also fired an Energa anti-tank rifle grenade into the building, causing the destruction of parts of the house, witnesses said.
Witnesses said they saw Israeli forces dragging a man’s body by his feet outside of the house.
Meanwhile the Palestinian Ministry of Health has reportedly confirmed al-Araj’s death, according to online media reports, while his body was taken by Israeli forces to an unknown destination.(...)