Israeli military forces this morning shot and killed a Palestinian civilian in the Northern Gaza Strip. Bilal Owaida, 20 years old, was walking with friends in land close to the buffer zone near Jabalia camp when Israeli forces opened fire on them, killing him and injuring three others.
There is widespread belief that Israel is trying to provoke an escalation, having killed five Palestinians and wounded 23 already this month, including members of the Al Quds Brigades and Islamic Jihad, as well as civilians.
Coupled with the US State Department’s announcement of the addition of Islamic Jihad’s Deputy Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah to the list of “terrorist organizations and individuals” there is concern that the US has given Israel political and legal cover to target leaders of the Palestinian resistance.
The spokesman for Islamic Jihad, Daoud Shihab, told AlMonitor on Thursday that his movement was not responsible for the recent escalation.
“We in Islamic Jihad hold Israel responsible, because it wants to evade the understandings of the truce and is once again resorting to assassinations,” he said. “There has been no military response from the Al-Quds Brigades. Israel’s allegations are false and are aimed at harming the resistance factions.”
Shihab said there is a consensus among the resistance factions to commit to the truce, despite the large number of violations and attacks carried out by Israel.
“If Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket launches [last week], we would have announced that very clearly,” Shihab said. “We will not escalate or initiate anything that breaks the agreement.”
Israel appears to have no such qualms. Not satisfied with making deposits in the “bank” of resistance leader targets that it wants to liquidate, it has increasingly taken to the withdrawal of civilians, as today’s death shows.