JENIN (Ma'an) -- Supporters of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) organized rallies in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin and in the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, to mark the anniversary of the death of PFLP member Omar Nayif
in the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria last year,
which the group believes was an assassination carried out by the Mossad (Israel’s foreign intelligence agency).
Nayif, a 52-year-old man from Jenin, had been living in Bulgaria for years, but in 2015 sought refuge in the Palestinian embassy after Israel demanded his extradition so he could see out a life sentence over the killing of an Israeli in Jerusalem's Old City in 1986. Nayif was one of a number of prisoners who should have been released by Israel as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which obligated Israel to release Palestinian political prisoners held until that point.
Bulgarian police reportedly gave Nayif 72 hours to turn himself in but Nayif refused, considering the procedure illegal, the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners' Affairs reported at the time.
Palestinian Authority (PA) officials had said that embassy staff found Nayif in the embassy's garden covered in blood, rushed him to hospital, only for him to die en route.
According to Palestinian ambassador Ahmad al-Madbuh, Nayif had been alone at the embassy and had been locked in for his own protection and there was no visible evidence of anyone having broken in to the three-story villa. However, al-Madbuh later told reporters that the death was "murder" and said it was “a result of the continuing persecution by Israel." Omar Nayif's brother Ahmad Nayif said shortly after the incident that his family held the PA responsible the death, which he said was an assassination by Israel. “My brother was being directly and indirectly threatened by some individuals at the embassy -- especially the ambassador -- who demanded him to leave the embassy where he was taking cover after being threatened by Mossad."
Ahmad demanded the Palestinian minister of Foreign Affairs and the Palestinian ambassador to Bulgaria be dismissed for not providing enough protection to Nayif.
Ahmad challenged the PA's version of events, saying that "a group of people raided the embassy and Omar’s room in order to assassinate him, when a fight erupted and they threw him out of the embassy’s balcony, killing him."
In the wake of the incident, the PFLP also blamed "the crime" on PA officials, who met with Bulgarian counterparts just two days prior the incident but failed to make any demands on behalf of Nayif, according to the PFLP.
Saturday's rally began at Nayif's home in the al-Marah village in the Jenin district, where participants gathered and demanded that the PA work to reinvestigate Nayif's alleged murder after Bulgarian authorities closed the case, concluding that Nayif had died as a result of falling from the building.
"The PA has remained silent to the deliberate murder of Nayif by the Israeli Mossad in accomplice with local (Bulgarian) entities,” a PFLP official said during the rally.
PFLP officials also highlighted that Nayif had sought assistance from the Palestinian embassy in Sofia when the Mossad threatened to murder or imprison him after he escaped from Israeli custody in 1990.
Another rally was organized in Gaza City on Saturday, marching from Saraya Square to Unknown Soldier's Square, when protesters called for the formation of an independent, impartial commission to investigate the alleged assassination of Nayif.
Gaza-based PFLP official Jamil Mizhir said during the rally that “thousands of Nayif’s comrades took to the street to confirm that this crime cannot go unpunished,” adding that the Mossad was responsible for the crime “along with other entities that will be exposed later.”
Rafiq Abu Dalaa, a member of the politburo of the PFLP, highlighted that the host country “must guarantee security and safety” for Palestinian embassies abroad.