image Photo: Flash90

Israel captures top PIJ terrorist

Bassam al-Sa’adi was arrested during counterterrorism activities by Israeli security forces throughout the West Bank districts of Judea and Samaria overnight as part of Operation Waves Breaker.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

A joint operation conducted by the IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA, also known as the Shin Bet) and Border Police Special Operations Forces netted senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) West Bank leader Bassam al-Sa’adi, his deputy and dozens of other wanted men during a joint raid in the flashpoint Palestinian Authority city of Jenin. The suspects have been taken into ISA custody for interrogation.

According to a statement from Israeli police, Sa’adi was slightly injured by a dog deployed by the forces after resisting arrest.

Palestinian gunmen opened fire at Israeli commandos disguised as local Arabs during the mission.  While no injuries were reported among the Israeli forces, several terrorists were shot and the PIJ subsequently acknowledged the death of one of its operatives. No immediate details were released about the identity of the slain man.

Jenin has seen regular raids by Israel since several of its residents – including PIJ members – carried out multiple deadly terror attacks in Israel earlier this year. Sa’adi  has led efforts to bolster the terror group’s power throughout the northern sector of the West Bank. At least 50 Palestinian terror suspects have reportedly been nabbed by Israeli forces over the past day alone.

The Gaza-based terror group has vowed to avenge Sa’adi’s capture and the death of its member. “We warn Israel against harming the life of Sa’adi and will respond to any aggression,” said a PIJ spokesperson.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid held a security assessment this morning with the participation of Alternate Premier Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, National Security Advisor Dr. Eyal Hulata, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, ISA Director Ronen Bar, Military Secretary to the Prime Minister Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil, Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo and other professionals.

Following intelligence from the Israeli security establishment, the level of defense preparedness to the highest level. Roads in areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip due to concern that Palestinian snipers may try to shoot at civilians, or fire rockets or tank shells into the country. The Erez crossing, which is the only passage between Palestinian territory and Israel, has also been sealed. In addition, train service from the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon to the town of Sderot has also been halted.

The West Bank, among areas where Palestinians seek statehood, has experienced simmering violence since United States-sponsored peace talks with Israel broke down in 2014.

The Iran-backed PIJ rejects co-existence with Israel, and has vowed to obliterate the Jewish State.