Lenny Ben-David

Change the Script! In Jenin, Israel Is Fighting an Iranian-Supported Militia

Tragically, Reporters Embedded with the Terrorists Are Wounded or Killed, but that Is the Price

May 11, 2022 – This morning, the Israel Defense Forces entered the Palestinian city of Jenin to root out a terrorist militia responsible for the murderous attacks on 19 Israeli civilians in recent weeks. One of the militia factions is the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Iranian-created terrorist group led by Ziyad al-Nakhalah, who reportedly resides in Beirut. PIJ receives money, training, and weapons from Iran. It is reinforced in Jenin by militia groups from Hamas and Fatah, identified by their different headbands and flags.

Some of the militia factions in Jenin (Quds News Network)
Obituary picture of three PIJ terrorists intercepted and killed by the IDF last month in Jenin: Saeb Abahara, 30, Khalil Twalba, 24, from Jenin, and Saif Abu Lebda, 25, from Tulkarem. (Palestinian press)

Nakhalah and Hamas leaders are regular visitors to Iran. Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh even delivered a eulogy at Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force commander, Qasim Soleimani.

PIJ leader Nakhalah with Qasim Soleimani and his successor, General Esmail Ghaani.
Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh’s eulogy to Soleimani. (Iran Press)
Nakhalah and Haniyeh (in the circle), immediately behind Iran’s senior leadership and surrounded by bodyguards, at the Soleimani funeral.(Iran Press)

The Death of a Reporter

Al-Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed in Jenin this morning, covering the gun battles between the Palestinian militia groups and the IDF. Palestinian groups and the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas quickly blamed Israel for her death, some even claiming that she was “executed” by the Israeli forces.

Thomas R. Nides, the US ambassador to Israel, tweeted, “Very sad to learn of the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death and the injury of at least one other journalist today in Jenin.”

A thorough investigation will not happen. Israel has called for a joint Palestinian-Israeli team to investigate and perform an autopsy to determine whose bullet killed Abu Akleh. The Palestinians have rejected the idea. One Palestinian spokesperson, Ziyad Abu Ziyad, even compared her death to the mysterious and staged filming of the death of 12-year-old Muhammed Dura in Gaza in 2000. The world condemned Israel then, even though the circumstances and filming of the boy’s death were never fully presented.

Later today, at the State Department press briefing, the American spokesperson will undoubtedly present an even-handed call to both sides to refrain from violence. Al Quds’ Washington correspondent Said Erekat will challenge the spokesperson to condemn the death of the American-Palestinian reporter and the attack on Jenin. His uncle Saeb Erekat was infamous 20 years ago for claiming that 500 Palestinians were killed in a “Jenin Massacre.” Said Erekat will live up to his uncle’s legacy.

Abu Akleh’s funeral is likely to be a Palestinian Authority-sponsored event with extensive media coverage. The reporter’s death – her martyrdom — will be compared to the death of Marie Colvin, a journalist for the British Times who was covering the siege of Homs in Syria in 2012. She was targeted by the Syrian government.

About the Author
Lenny Ben-David served as a senior Israeli diplomat in Washington. He is a public affairs consultant, writer, researcher, editor, and historian of early photographs. Ben-David is the author of "American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs." He worked for AIPAC for 25 years in Washington and Jerusalem.
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