Despite — or because of — Israeli threats to assassinate him, the father of the Palestinian who killed three Israelis in Tel Aviv last week has become an icon of the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
Fathi Hazem is a retired colonel in the Palestinian Authority National Security Forces and is facing threats from Israel's army and security services, including Shin Bet. His son Ra'ad was killed after the attack.
The extent of his support among Palestinians was demonstrated from Sunday evening to Monday morning when Jenin city and refugee camp stood on the alert to protect the former security official. It was as if he had just emerged from the battles of Jenin camp in 2002.
According to Fatah official Jamal Haweel, Israel wants "Abu Ra'ad" but the city and refugee camp will not let this happen as long as the former colonel does not want to surrender. The threats against Hazem started after he addressed the crowd which gathered outside his home in Jenin to pay respects on the death of his son.
Colonel Fathi Hazem addressed the hundreds of young men in the small square outside his home and praised his son for his heroic actions which have inspired the people of occupied Palestine. He placed his son's act of resistance within a much wider context than the narrative presented by Israel.
Over the past four days, internal security Shin Bet agents have called on him to surrender, and threatened him with assassination if he doesn't. "I will not surrender while I don't have my son's body to bury," responded Abu Ra'ad.
The authorities in Tel Aviv are disturbed by his clear and unambiguous position on armed resistance as a tool to resist the brutal military occupation imposed by Israel. So much so that Israeli media have reported that the office of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has approached the US administration to ask President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend Fathi Hazem's pension due to him as a retired employee of the Palestinian Authority. The Israelis have also asked that the PA does not pay the stipend allocated to the families of martyrs.
Two days ago, Israeli armed forces stormed into Jenin refugee camp and raided the Hazem family home. This was followed by two hours of violent clashes with local residents in which local resident Ahmed Al-Saadi was killed. Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli army tried to kill the two brothers of Ra'ad Hazem, near the family home in the village of Deir Ghazaleh. However, the brothers escaped unharmed.