In a pre-dawn raid attacking a home in el-Bireh, Basil al-Araj, 31, Palestinian youth activist and writer pursued by Israel for nearly a year, was assassinated by invading Israeli occupation forces this morning.
Al-Araj, from the village of Walaja near Bethlehem, fought back and resisted the invading forces for two hours before the attacking occupation soldiers broke into the home where he was staying and executed him at close range. They then seized his body and took it to an unknown location.
The attack on the home included rocket fire as well as al-Araj’s extrajudicial execution in a hail of bullets. Al-Araj’s family home in al-Walaja had been repeatedly raided by occupation forces for months.
Al-Araj, a writer and activist involved in a wide array of Palestinian grassroots struggles for liberation, was among the Palestinian youth dedicated to reviving the Palestinian national liberation movement. One of six Palestinian youth released from Palestinian Authority prisons after nearly six months of detention when they launched a hunger strike, Al-Araj and other youth had been seized in April in what was touted as a victory for security coordination between the PA and Israel. While they were imprisoned by the PA, they were subject to torture and ill-treatment by PA security forces.
After their hunger strike and widespread attention to their case, including protests after reports of their torture, secured their release, four of the youth – Mohammed al-Salameen, Seif al-Idrissi, Haitham Siyaj, and Mohammed Harb – have been seized by Israeli occupation forces. All four have been ordered to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
The extrajudicial execution of Basil al-Araj is yet another example of the ongoing use of “arrest raids” as assassination raids against Palestinian strugglers, including the killing of Abdullah Shalaldeh in the hospital and the murder of former prisoner and struggler Muataz Washaha. It also highlights once again the devastating and deadly reality of “security coordination” between the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority for Palestinians struggling for their liberation, pursued and imprisoned through this coordination up to the point of their execution.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes and remembers Basil al-Araj, who struggled all his life for Palestine and its people, committed to a radical vision of justice and liberation, and determined to take up the struggle by all means to secure that freedom against the occupation. We demand real justice for Basil al-Araj, the prosecution and accountability of all those responsible for his execution, and the immediate release of his body, as well as his imprisoned comrades and all 7,000 Palestinian prisoners of freedom in the jails of the occupation.
We once again demand an end to the policies of security coordination that further threaten Palestinian life and freedom at the behest of the occupation. We know that the vision and the dream of Basil al-Araj can only be fulfilled with the liberation of Palestine from occupation, oppression, racism, Zionism, apartheid and settler-colonialism and we pledge to intensify our work and struggle to make that vision a reality.