Security forces are intensifying raids in the West Bank to counter the ongoing wave of violent attacks against Israelis.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
Israel’s defense establishment continue to conduct daily counterterrorism activity throughout the West Bank, as part of Operation “Waves Breaker,” which aims to foil multiple efforts to execute acts of terror against Israeli civilians.
In overnight raids, IDF and Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) forces apprehended a total of six individuals wanted for involvement in terror activity in the Palestinian city of Qalqilya and the towns of Qaffin and Atil.
The forces also operated in the regional divisions in Binyamin and Etzion. 15 terrorists were captured, including 2 who are suspected of assisting the assailants who carried out the attacks in Elad and 2 others who helped who carried out the attack in Ariel.
In a separate overnight incident, an exchange of fire was reported in the Palestinian village of Balata when the IDF and Border Police forces escorted a group of Jewish worshippers to Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of the city of Nablus, the home of many of the assailants who committed acts of terror against Israeli civilians in recent weeks. An IDF Spokesperson confirmed there were no military injuries or damage.
Top political leaders in Jerusalem are now considering the reintroduction of “targeted killings” of senior officials of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror groups who are actively inciting the Palestinian public by calling for the murder of Jews.
While incitement by institutional Palestinian authorities is rampant and not exclusive to one faction or another, the deadly attack in Elad came less than a week after Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar called on all Palestinians to murder Israelis with knives or axes. During a fiery speech in Gaza, he also declared that the campaign to conquer Jerusalem has only just begun, and that Jews living in Judea and Samaria could be violently removed by year’s end.
During a security briefing yesterday, the IDF reportedly told Israeli leaders that the recent series of attacks were sparked by Islamic religious beliefs and clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Muslim month of Ramadan.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said he considers each victim of the recent attacks an operational failure on the military’s end, particularly given the vast resources and personnel deployed to foil terrorism. Ordering the bolstering of forces at the security barrier with the West Bank, six IDF battalions of reservist forces have been deployed to bring the overall number of divisions in the 26, double the routine level.
The Israeli military will also continue to conduct counterterrorism raid in the Jenin area, which has been a hotbed for Palestinian terrorist activity in recent months.
In addition, a month-long “Chariots of Fire” military exercise, featuring thousands of IDF troops got underway yesterday, involving multi-front confrontations focused on the West Bank, southern border with Gaza and northern frontier with Lebanon.