August 27, 2001
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Secretary-General Abu Ali Mustafa is killed in his mid-60s when two or more helicopter-fired missiles strike his office in Ramallah. Israel confirms its responsibility for the assassination, which comes after a weekend of violence that killed 11 Israelis and Palestinians.
Mustafa, who moved back to the West Bank in 1999 after 30 years in Damascus and had led the PFLP since 2000, is the highest-ranked Palestinian official killed to date in the 11-month-old Second Intifada. While he sought reconciliation between the PFLP and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, he maintained opposition to the Oslo process and rejected any peace negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinian Authority calls for three days of mourning for Mustafa. The PFLP vows to take revenge, and Hamas calls the killing a declaration of war. Protests abound throughout the West Bank and Palestinian refugee camps.
“After this crime, every Israeli citizen and every Israeli leader must feel he is a target,” says Rabah Muhana, a PFLP political leader.
The U.S. State Department reiterates its criticism of targeted killings by Israel.