While on the run, slain Palestinian fugitive became social media star and local hero

Ibrahim al-Nablusi has been evading arrest by Israel for months, garnering faithful online following before being killed in a broad-daylight raid security officials say serves as a warning to other terror suspects

Elisha Ben Kimon|
For the past six months, Ibrahim al-Nablusi, who was killed by Israeli security forces on Tuesday, evaded arrest.
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  • After a three-hour siege on his home in the West Bank city of Nablus and a firefight that included missile fire, the 18-year-old who had earned the reputation of a local hero on social media died along with other Palestinian gunmen.
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    איברהים אל נבולסי , המבוקש שהפלסטינים טוענים שהצליח להימלט
    איברהים אל נבולסי , המבוקש שהפלסטינים טוענים שהצליח להימלט
    Ibrahim al-Nablusi
    While on the run, al-Nablusi carried out a number of shooting attacks, mostly against IDF positions across the West Bank and occasionally against Jewish worshipers visiting Joseph's Tomb, before fleeing back into the Palestinian city.
    He gradually gained a faithful online following with users heaping praise on him.
    Security officials knew of al-Nablusi's whereabouts for days but decided to wait for an opportune moment before going after him.
    An Israeli source tells Ynet that the decision to carry out the raid in broad daylight and in the middle of a residential area was meant in part to serve as a warning to other terror suspects.
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    Israeli security forces in Nablus on Tuesday
    (Photo: AFP)
    The source says that plainclothes forces encircled the home where al-Nablusi was hiding and called out to him to surrender after identifying themselves.
    Al-Nablusi barricaded himself inside the house and opened fire at the troops. The force then deployed a "pressure cooker" strategy to try and force him out of the house, starting with pistol fire before switching to more deadly alternatives.
    Ultimately, troops fired missiles at the building, completely destroying it and killing the fugitive in the process.
    "We have been noticing a trend over the past few days. The use of safe houses which began in Gaza during an IDF offensive there, and continues on the West Bank," the source says.
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    A funeral procession carries the body of Ibrahim al-Nablusi through Nablus streets on Tuesday
    (Photo: EPA)
    "If wanted terrorists think they can hide among civilians, assuming the IDF will not strike, they've got another thing coming," he says. "They were wrong in Gaza and they are wrong in Nablus."
    The Israeli defense establishment considered al-Nablusi — who was not affiliated with or funded by any terrorist group — to be a ticking timebomb, intent on carrying out attacks against Israelis. During a search of the ruins, Israeli forces found explosive devices and munitions.
    Brigadier General Roi Zweig, commander of the IDF Samaria Brigade, says the operation in Nablus was a success.
    "We will not allow West Bank cities to become safe havens for terrorists and we will reach them wherever they are," he says.
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    פעילות הכוחות בשכם וחמ"ל החטיבה המרחבית שומרון
    פעילות הכוחות בשכם וחמ"ל החטיבה המרחבית שומרון
    IDF forces in Nablus on Tuesday
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    Nablus Governor Ibrahim Ramadan announced a city-wide strike in response to the Israeli action and the local hospital called on residents to donate blood due to the high number of casualties in the siege.
    Palestinian factions called on local residents to go out and clash with IDF troops and the military expects thousands to participate in the slain terrorists' funeral on Tuesday afternoon with violent demonstrations expected to follow.
    On his last social media post, al-Nablusi told his supporters that he was surrounded by Israeli forces.
    "I love you and I am going to die as a martyr, friends." he said in a message he recorded during the three-hour siege. "I love my mother. look after the homeland. Don't put down your guns."
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