Palestinians took to the streets Monday afternoon in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah to protest the killing of prominent Palestinian activist Basel Araj in an overnight raid, as several Palestinian factions issued statements condemning his killing.
In a statement released Monday, the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Araj was “assassinated” and described him as “one of the most prominent young Palestinian fighters” to resist the Israeli occupation, who “worked to chronicle the history of Palestine and confront all attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
The statement added that Araj was “a revolutionary intellectual who put all of his cultural and intellectual energies in the service of the resistance together with his own actions on the ground.”
Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian activist and the head of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, said Araj's death was "nothing but an act of extrajudicial killing and assassination."
"Every price you pay in the resistance ... you will get repaid for it if not in your life, then later ... Resistance continues to be feasible."
Two other people confronted the Israeli troops as they raided a house in a village in the district of Bethlehem in the West Bank where Araj was staying. He had been on the run from Israeli authorities for several months for being “close to Islamists.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli police described the Palestinian activist as a “terrorist killed in border police CT operation” for “planning an attack against civilians and security forces," Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli police spokesperson said in a statement.
However, Araj’s uncle, Khalid, said his nephew spent most of his time “reading and researching, particularly about the history and geography of Palestine,” Al-Jazeera reported Monday.
The Israeli statement also claimed that officers were at the house to arrest Araj but began to fire after he and the other two fired at them. But Barghouti said he visited the house where the shootout occurred and argued that it seemed Israelis were doing most of the shooting.
"They said there was a fight and clash, but what I found was that the only side that was shooting was the Israeli," he told Al-Jazeera.
"If Araj had any chance to shoot, he would not have been able to shoot more than one bullet. The house was completely bombarded with Israeli bullets. The Israeli side is trying to claim there was shoot back."
While the Palestinian government slammed the killing, the leftist PFLP blamed Palestinian authorities for his death suggesting that the security coordination between Ramallah and Tel Aviv have allowed Israel to target wanted Palestinian activists.
“The security coordination is an explicit betrayal of the blood of the martyrs and the principles and values of our people and is continuing to damage the resistance and the Palestinian youth,” the Marxist resistance group said.
Araj was held in a Palestinian prison for almost five months without charges or an explanation of his arrest and was released in September only to land on Israel's wanted list.