Baha Nababta, a well-known social activist in the Shoafat refugee camp in northern Jerusalem, was shot to death on Monday by an unknown assailant. The police have opened an investigation, but the circumstances surrounding the murder are unclear.
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Nababta, 31, helped to improve the lives of residents of the refugee camp and other neighborhoods outside the separation barrier in East Jerusalem. He headed a group of young people from the Ras Shehada neighborhood, next to the Shoafat refugee camp, and was part of numerous initiatives on behalf of the residents. Recently he headed a project to pave roads around the camp, after residents despaired of the city ever doing so for them.
The murder occurred at about 11:30 P.M. on Monday, while Nababta stood with a large group of local residents near the paving work they had initiated. Witnesses said an unknown person riding a motorbike was looking for Nababta, and when he found him he shot 10 bullets at Nababta, seven of which hit him. Nababta was rushed to hospital but died a short time later.
Camp residents said on Tuesday that they did not know who the murderer was, but thought the murder was connected to his social activism.
The Shoafat refugee camp and nearby neighborhoods were cut off from Jerusalem by the separation barrier over a decade ago. Since then, Israeli authorities have neglected the area, even though legally the neighborhoods are under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality. Garbage collection is infrequent, the city does not supervise construction, no regular police force is present, the physical infrastructure has been neglected and there are problems with the water supply.
Nababta gathered a group of activists who tried to aid local residents, including establishing an emergency services team that came to the scene of accidents and fires, because the Israeli emergency services were afraid to enter the neighborhoods out of fear for their security and under instructions from the police. The local response team even received training from the Jerusalem fire department.
Nababta was involved in the establishment of a nonprofit organization for camp residents, and cooperated with Israeli organizations in filing lawsuits to force the government and Jerusalem municipality to provide residents with services.
He left a wife and two daughters.