- Former district leader of the terrorist group al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades
Born in 1976, Ra’ed al-Karmi was the Tulkarem (West Bank) district leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a faction of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement. He was also the head of the Tulkarem faction of Tanzim, an armed wing of Fatah that serves as an informal, unofficial “army” for the Palestinians.
In his career as a terrorist, al-Karmi, acting under the direct supervision of Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, was responsible for the deaths of nine Israelis and the wounding of many others. Consequently, his name was high on the list of people whom Israel repeatedly implored the Palestinian Authority (PA) to arrest. The PA, in response, falsely claimed that al-Karmi was already incarcerated in a Tulkarem prison.
Al-Karmi narrowly escaped being killed in September 2001 when the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a rocket attack on a car in which he was travelling.
Four months later — on January 14, 2002 — Israel succeeded in assassinating al-Karmi with a roadside explosive device. In the aftermath of the killing, Israeli Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh said that al-Karmi “was a terrorist of the deadliest kind,” adding: “A man like this is a like a ticking bomb. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”
Al-Karmi’s death sparked a spate of violent incidents by Palestinian protesters — approximately 15 incidents per day over the the course of a week. Moreover, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades announced in a statement that they were abandoning a recently declared ceasefire and would avenge Karmi’s death: “The so-called ceasefire is cancelled, cancelled, cancelled. You [Israel] have opened hell on yourselves. You will be burned by its fire.”
In 2015, Palestinian officials honored al-Karmi by naming a Tulkarem street in his memory.
Further Reading: “Leading Palestinian Killed in Blast” (BBC News, 1-14-2002); “Palestinian Militants Vow to Avenge Killing” (The Guardian, 1-14-2002); “Street in Tulkarem Named after ‘Martyr’ Raed Al-Karmi” (Palestinian Media Watch, 8-1-2015).