Hamas: Palestinian found dead in West Bank had shot at IDF troops in past month

Terror group says 51-year-old Fakhr Qarat ‘fulfilled God’s call and [his] duty’; stops short of clearly taking responsibility for February 6 attack

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Israeli troops search for a gunman who opened fire at an IDF soldier, lightly injuring him, near the central West Bank settlement of Dolev on February 6, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops search for a gunman who opened fire at an IDF soldier, lightly injuring him, near the central West Bank settlement of Dolev on February 6, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

Hamas heaped praise on a deceased Palestinian man on Monday, who the terrorist group said had carried out a shooting attack against Israeli soldiers at the beginning of February.

The statement came hours after the IDF said that it had located the remains of the Palestinian man in the central West Bank who was believed to have opened fire on troops earlier this month.

A gunman shot at Kfir Brigade soldiers stationed along a highway near the Parsa Juction outside the Dolev settlement, northwest of Ramallah, on February 6, according to the IDF. During the incident, a bullet grazed one solider’s head, lightly injuring him, the military said.

Soldiers opened fire at the gunman in response and launched a manhunt to find him, which ended Monday, with the discovery of the body, according to the army.

Hamas identified the deceased Palestinian man as 51-year-old Fakhr Qarat of Beitunia, a town adjacent to Ramallah, and branded him “the martyr of Palestine.”

“He fulfilled God’s call and [his] duty after he executed the shooting operation against the occupation’s soldiers,” Hamas said in a statement posted on its official website.

Hamas stopped short of clearly taking responsibility for the shooting. The terror group has frequently feted Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.

In its statement, Hamas added: “The message of our martyr bleeding profusely over several days is — enough of the normalization and coordination with the occupation. Today is the time of the rifle which is meant for resisting until the occupier is expelled.”

Palestinian women, one holding a picture of Hamas movement chief Ismail Haniyeh, attend a mass rally marking the 32nd anniversary of the founding of Hamas on December 14, 2019, in Gaza City. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Hamas has long lashed out at the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership over its security coordination with Israel and its engagement with former and current Israeli government officials and civil society.

The Palestinian man’s body was found among some bushes in a valley in the central West Bank, with an M-16 assault rifle and a pistol nearby, the IDF also said.

Family members of Qarat said that he went missing on February 6 and that he was a father to six and a merchant, the official Palestinian Authority news site reported.

Tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem have been heightened since the release of the US administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in late January.

The Palestinians have rejected the initiative, which was widely seen as overwhelmingly favoring Israeli government positions. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has called the plan “the slap of the century” and vowed the Palestinian people “will send it to the dustbins of history.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he supports the plan and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, has maintained that it represents “the best opportunity the Palestinians have ever had” and said that he hopes “they seize it.

In the time since the plan’s release, the military has noted a significant increase in violence in the West Bank, with regular rock-throwing and violent opposition to Israeli arrest raids.

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