The Palestinian gunmen had been identified as perpetrators of repeated drive-by shooting attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets throughout the West Bank districts of Judea and Samaria in recent weeks.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
According to a statement by the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet), the terrorists were neutralized yesterday near the West Bank Palestinian city of Nablus “at the conclusion of a joint intelligence and operational activity” with the Israeli Police YAMAM Counter-Terror Unit and the IDF.
The ISA Spokesperson’s Unit further confirmed that the “3 terrorists, who were armed and in a vehicle, were killed during the encounter with the security forces.”
No injuries were reported among the Israeli troops during the mission.
“The Israel National Counter-Terrorism Unit, the ISA and the IDF – our forces have proven today, once again, that there is no immunity for terrorists. Whoever harms us – will be harmed,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said the 3 Palestinians were members of their group, which is linked to President Mahmoud Abbas‘ Fatah group. The armed Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has been designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
Fatah condemned the Israeli operation as a “cowardly assassination,” and vowed to retaliate in the near future. “Israel is responsible for this criminal assassination. It is part of their ongoing crimes,” said Monir Al-Jaghoub, a Fatah Spokesperson in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry described the incident as “an ugly field execution.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had announced on Monday that he had instructed the Israeli military “to increase operational activities against shooting attacks; the force preparedness and their wide-scale deployment on highways thwarts terror attacks and we will foil and lay our hands on those who seek to harm human lives.”
Underscoring that “IDF soldiers continue to operate against terror and are safeguarding the security of Israel in all sectors,” Israel’s top defense leader stressed that the troops “continue to exercise and engage in force build-up against challenges in the outer circles, as well as safeguard security, law and order in Judea and Samaria.”