Former Nablus mayor Bassam Shakaa died on Monday in the West Bank city at 89.
He survived an assassination attempt in 1980 but lost both of his legs, when a bomb planted in his car by Jewish Israeli terrorists exploded. Following the bombing, he said, “I am now deeply rooted in the land,” according to the official PA news site Wafa.
Shakaa, an ardent Palestinian nationalist and a fierce critic of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, served as mayor of Nablus between 1976 and 1982.
PA Health Ministry spokesman Osama Najjar said Shakaa’s health had deteriorated in recent years in light of a number of medical complications, without elaborating.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas praised Shakaa for his “continued defense of his people’s just issue and his insistence on achieving national unity and our people’s just and legitimate rights,” Wafa reported.
The Hamas terror group eulogized him as “one of the heroes who fought the occupation and settlement building” and “one of the leaders of the Palestinian national movement.”
Ayman Shakaa, a family member, said a funeral procession for Bassam would be held on Tuesday in Nablus.
Israel arrested and issued a deportation order against Shakaa in 1979 after he allegedly made comments in support of a terrorist attack in 1978 that left more than 30 Israelis dead. But following popular protests in the West Bank in support of Shakaa, the IDF revoked the order and allowed him to return to Nablus, where he received a hero’s welcome.
He also signed his name onto a petition in 1999 that accused the PA of corruption and criticized the Oslo Accords.
In an interview with the Haaretz daily in 2005, Shakaa said what reporter Danny Rubinstein described as his perspective on the world: “I do not want to control anyone and I don’t want anyone to control me.”
Asked about the two-state solution, Shakaa told Rubinstein: “The State of Israel is not prepared for this. It is carrying out a racist policy and constantly expanding the Jewish settlements in the territories — so there’s nothing to discuss about the two-state principle.”
Shakaa was the uncle of the late Ghassan Shakaa, who also served as Nablus’s mayor.