Photo: Flash90

Israeli counter-terror ops ongoing

IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) and Border Police Special Operations forces continue to conducted activities throughout the West Bank districts of Judea and Samaria as part of the prolonged Operation Waves Breaker to apprehend wanted terrorists.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

An exchange of heavy fire erupted in the city of Nablus where three senior Palestinian terror operatives were eliminated, including Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Ibrahim al-Nabulsi and the head of Hamas’ Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank city Musab Shtayyeh. There were also unconfirmed reports noted that field Commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Al-Quds Brigades in Nablus Islam Subuh may have sustained severe injuries during the gunbattle.

Al-Nabulsi had long been on Israel’s wanted list. The IDF said he was killed after barricading himself within a structure, refusing to surrender and targeted Israeli security forces with shoulder-fired missiles. As a member of the recently-formed “Nablus Brigade” Palestinian terrorist alliance in the city, which also includes PIJ gunmen, he is believed to have carried out multiple shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Tens of thousands attended his funeral and called for revenge. Clashes broke out during which the IDF said troops responded with live fire against Palestinians hurling explosives and rocks at soldiers. While there were no reported injuries among the Israeli forces, the Islamic Jihad said a 16-year-old was killed and 40 more people were injured during confrontations against the Israeli units.

“The neutralizing of the terrorist Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi is another step in our uncompromising fight against terrorism,” said Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, in a statement commending the joint operations and conveying his appreciation “to the forces on the ground who dedicate their lives to the security of the State of Israel” in “a highly successful precise action without casualties.”

The Israeli leader went on to say that, “the ISA has again proven its intelligence superiority against the terrorist organizations,” as he thanked “the men and women of the ISA who took part in the operation for their daring, creativity and determination to find and strike terrorists in places that they mistakenly assume will be a safe haven for them.”

Prime Minister Lapid also expressed appreciation during subsequent conversations with the Commander of the Israel National Counter-Terrorism (INCT) Assistant Commissioner “H,” Head of ISA Operations “N” and the Head of IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fox and all the officers in the field. “We know who we can rely on. Our people are the best and they deserve all praise. Take care of yourselves. Return home to your families safely,” he underscored.

Sadly, the INCT Canine Unit dog Zili was killed during the mission. Lapid said that the “beloved and professional” member of the unit will be much missed by the soldiers and canine handlers whom he had repeatedly accompanied on operations.

Operation Waves Breaker was launched to combat a surge of terror attacks against Israeli civilians in recent months. The Palestinian Authority rulers of the West Bank regularly condemns such incursions.

The shoot-out in Nablus was the deadliest incident in the area since Israel and the PIJ ended three days of fighting in Gaza – in the worst clash in more than a year. The Iran-backed terror group fired about 1,100 rockets at Israeli communities during the 72-hour conflict, 97% of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. The codenamed Operation Breaking Dawn concluded with a 7 August truce between the sides that has largely held. The IDF revealed only yesterday a failed PIJ attempt to launch a drone at Israel’s Tamar natural gas rig during the conflict resulted in heightened protection of the platform located in southern Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz emphasized earlier this week that while Jerusalem has a zero-tolerance policy against “against any violation of our sovereignty and conduct both defensive and offensive activities in order to thwart threats in all arenas,” that it simultaneously enacts “responsible civilian, humanitarian policy that focuses on strengthening moderate forces in the region at the expense of terrorist organizations.”

He then reiterated that the Islamist Hamas terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip bears territorial responsibility for all violence emanating from the Palestinian enclave. “Wherever this responsibility is not implemented, we will operate forcefully and use all the means at our disposal – both military and civilian. We will operate in accordance with our need and considerations.”