‘It’s going to explode’: young Palestinians look to the gun amid Israeli offensive

Israel’s Operation Breakwater aims to reduce the enemy’s ability to attack, but seems to be galvanising a new generation of fighters

Palestinian members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade which has rearmed in recent years

Bethan McKernan and Sufian Taha report in The Guardian on 21 September 2022:

There is almost nothing left of the Ottoman-era house in the old city of Nablus where Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, an 18-year-old fighter with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, made his final stand against the Israeli army.

Every inch of the remaining walls and ceiling is pockmarked by bullet holes; witnesses said that after a gun battle lasting hours, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) used shoulder-launched rockets to blast open the metal doors. The missiles brought down heavy stonework that crushed the immensely 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 9 August raid, part of Operation Breakwater, a six-month-old campaign of near-nightly IDF sorties, arrests, targeted killings and house demolitions across the occupied West Bank. Designed to flush out militants from al-Aqsa, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the offensive has evolved into one of the biggest Israeli military operations outside wartime for decades.

“There were arrests last night. It’s not safe to go outside at night, you’ll get shot, like I was last year,” said Ali Rafik Sabah, 56, a restaurant owner in the Balata refugee camp on the city’s outskirts, who lifted up his shirt to show two glassy scars on his torso during the Guardian’s visit last week.  “This is a desperate place. Every young man here has a gun, and these attacks just make them more determined to fight back.”

Operation Breakwater was launched this spring in response to one of the deadliest waves of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel in years. According to the Palestinian health ministry, this year so far 98 Palestinians – mostly armed men, but also many civilians – have been killed across the West Bank, a seven-year record.

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