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 that 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, was rushed to hospital, and died 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-storey 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 for al-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 al-Nayif, according to the PFLP.
Saturday’s rally began at Nayif’s home in the al-Marah village in the Jenin district, where participants rallied and demanded that the PA work to reinvestigate his 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 after 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.