Ibrahim Nabulsi: The Lion of Nablus
By Ali Karbalaei, Tehran Times
Ibrahim Nabulsi is the symbol of a new armed resistance led by the youth of the occupied West Bank.
Born after the second intifada in 2001, his life in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus only saw the brutality and massacres that comes with the “Israeli” forces and its settlers.
This led him to take up arms and join the Palestinian struggle against “Israel” by playing a role in organizing the retaliatory operations against the “Israeli” occupation.
At such a young age, he was one of “Israel’s” most wanted people and survived several assassination attempts, making him a popular figure among the residents in his home town of Nablus, in particular the youth, who describe him as a humble yet fearless and brave person, not seeking fame and popularity.
But those were the features that has made him so popular before his death on August 9, 2022 and after his death.
His fearlessness and martyrdom earned him the nickname the Lion of Nablus as well as the newly formed Lions' Den resistance movement in the occupied West Bank.
“Ibrahim was hunting them, not the other way around. Whenever he heard about an “Israeli” army raid, he was the first to go out and confront them. This was his fate. We praise God,” Nabulsi’s father said.
At one point, “Israel” thought it had killed him, after shooting dead three Palestinians.
The following day, he was seen at their funeral procession.
The manner of his martyrdom is unique in that he refused to surrender to “Israeli” special forces and this has inspired other young Palestinians to do the same.
Saad Nimr, a professor of political science at Birzeit University in Ramallah, told Tehran Times, “There were so many attempts to assassinate him and he escaped".
The 18-year-old was under so much “Israeli” surveillance in an attempt to capture him until the regime's intelligence located a house where he had spent the night and dispatched special forces before dawn to that location.
Nimr says "they surrounded the house in the morning and ordered Nablusi to hand himself over, but he refused".
"‘Israeli’ troops opened fire and Nablusi along with two other teenagers chose to resist, fight back and shoot at the ‘Israeli’ forces. Clashes broke out. At the end of the day, the ‘Israeli’ troops could not do anything but to fire rockets at the house and destroyed it totally to kill all the three inside" Nimr stated.
But why did his martyrdom become so important and still scare the “Israelis”?
Nimr explains that before his death, Nablusi sent a phone message saying "we are going to be martyred and I hope all the Palestinians will follow us in our way of resisting and I am urging all the Palestinians not to drop your weapons and continue the resistance".
After his message, “Israeli” missiles [a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades – RPGs] killed him but Nimr says Nablusi's voice went viral on social media and in every house in the occupied West Bank and beyond, all the Palestinians heard it.
That message has "inspired many Palestinians to do the same, follow his lead and it lifted the morale of the Palestinian resistance. Contrary to ‘Israeli’ calculations who wanted to send a message to the Palestinians that anyone who resists us will be killed, it had the opposite effect." Nimr pointed out.
"The ‘Israelis’ failed to weaken the morale of the Palestinians; on the contrary, I think his martyrdom became the inspiration for the Palestinians whose morale became stronger and stronger and now more Palestinians want to follow his lead and join the armed resistance."
Nimr points out how his martyrdom led to the expansion of the Lion's Den and other resistance factions, not just in the flashpoint areas of Jenin and Nablus.
"Now there is resistance in the Balata refugee camp, Tulkaram, Ariha [Jericho]. The phenomena of the young Palestinians who are resisting – non-officially – by the Palestinian Authority but on their own merit is now expanding to many cities in the West Bank, which had made the ‘Israelis’ really crazy about this," he noted.
"This is why Nablusi's martyrdom was so significant and so important. It created all these other resistance groups to the point that the ‘Israelis’ cannot enter any city in the West Bank without facing resistance; it’s not easy for them like it was before, they have to calculate every minute when they arrive at any city that there will be resistance and shooting. It's not an easy task like they used to have," Nimr explained.
He also said the younger generation see no hope for their future under occupation.
"They see atrocities every day, they don't know if they are going to be killed on the streets or at a military checkpoint. They are being ruled by a fascist, colonial, racist, apartheid regime that is based on hatred and violence."
No negotiations with “Israel” will work. On the contrary the settlements are expanding, and settlers are now armed, and if this is left for a few years there will be no space for the Palestinians. Reports indicate there will be one million “Israeli” settlers in the occupied West Bank and east-al-Quds [Jerusalem].
"The younger generation has realized that and understand it more than the Palestinian Authority and have decided to take on the responsibility" Nimr pointed out.
The message being sent by the young men influenced by Nablusi to the regime is that "we are going to die anyway, so we refuse to die silently, the only thing the occupation understands is armed resistance."
The new dynamic is that Nablusi led the younger generation to take matters into their own hands.
While the Palestinian Authority calls for peaceful resistance, younger Palestinians can see the reality of ethnic cleansing. They are not stupid.
Nablusi left behind a generation of young Palestinians who seek to join the armed struggle before they are all ethnically cleansed by “Israel”, including the Palestinian Authority.
These were the words of Nablusi's last message before his martyrdom along with two other teenagers on that day, the youngest of whom was 16 years old.
"I love you so much … I've been martyred … Please take care of our homeland after me … and my will to you is never put down the rifle … with your honor … I am currently cornered and I am going to be martyred."
During his funeral procession, Nabulsi’s mother said, "They thought they killed my son, but they didn't."
Nablusi may have died, but he left behind a legacy that has made the Palestinian West Bank Resistance stronger than when he was alive. And this is what frightens “Israel”.