At about 8.30pm tonight, the Israeli army carried out another incursion here in Ramallah, assassinating Ayman Khateb, a member of the Palestinian intelligence. Initial reports in the Israeli media are claiming that he was also a member of the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, which is possible, but unconfirmed right now. He was tracked and identified by Palestinian collaborators and then assassinated by undercover Israeli forces. The Israeli army was then brought in so that the assassins could make good their escape. They injured at least two other people in the process. The soldiers reportedly shot the body again for good measure before they left.
This all happened here in the Old City of Ramallah or “Lower Ramallah”, the same neighbourhood that I live and work in. Only one block away from us in the ISM Media office, we heard loud gunfire close by and could tell that it was not from a celebration or protest. All the shops in the street below quickly closed up. Very soon after this, several Israeli army jeeps sped past our street towards the direction that the gunfire was coming from. We managed to capture this on video.
People came out onto the street in clusters, sharing news and wondering what to do. A group of us from the ISM office went onto the street to talk to people and see if we could be useful in any way. We got into a position from which we could film the jeeps from a distance. They had stopped near a posh local restaurant. We heard they had shot someone, but that he was still alive and no one was being allowed close to him. By the time we got there he was dead and the jeeps had left. We witnessed the dead and injured being taken away in ambulances, as well as the scene of destruction left behind. A falafel shop had been trashed so that the soldiers could use it as cover. It was on a street I regularly walk down. I had stood near that very spot only a few days previously as a friend bought falafel from one of the street vendors.
This comes on the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel would continue its policy of targeted assassinations of Palestinian fighters, because “the lives and the welfare of the residents of the Sderot [an Israeli town bordering Gaza] are more important than those of the residents of Gaza” . At exactly the same time, he was meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan and talking to the press about peace. Some peace, when Israel is regularly carrying out so many massacres of civillians in Gaza that it’s hard to keep up. They even try to deny that it was them behind it, when it’s obvious that they were. The idea that there is a “ceasefire” and “restraint” from Israel is a cruel joke.