He founded an Islamic society called Jam‘iyyat al-I‘tisam in 1941. Khatib's family held the mufti-ship of Haifa during Ottoman rule. Khatib was targeted for assassination by the Haganah, as part of Operation Zarzir, on 19 February 1948.
Two Shahar agents fired 32 bullets at a taxi in which he was traveling north of Haifa on a return journey from Damascus. He was hit by one bullet in the lung and three in the left shoulder and remained outside of Palestine for the rest of the war. One passenger died and one other was wounded in the attack.
Khatib was the author of a notable account of the 1948 War entitled The Events of the Disaster (Min Athar al-Nakba).