Tensions continue to rise in and around Israel – with terror striking in the center of the country, as well as in the Samaria district of the so-called West Bank.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
Terrorists shot at the Israeli agricultural collective of Ma’ale Gilboa on the northeastern end of the ridge of the Samarian Hill.
Several homes were damaged by gunfire, but there were no reported injuries.
“We heard gunfire sounds and I immediately jumped into the security vehicle toward the area that was shot at. In hindsight, I spotted the terrorists’ car which was fleeing. Many families were outside because of (the approaching holiday of )Passover, and we had to get all residents into the homes,” Kibbutz Chief Security Official Omri Carmi said while speaking to Army Radio this morning.
Video released by the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group purportedly shows a gunman it claimed as a member opening fire at the Israeli town from the West Bank, mistakenly identifying the target as the Merav Kibbutz, located within Israel along the seam line with the West Bank.
The Defense Ministry revealed that Israeli security forces near the crossing fired a warning shot earlier in the day at a Palestinian gunman who fled the scene in a vehicle.
In related developments, the IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) and Border Police Special Operations units conducted counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria overnight as part of Operation Waves Breaker.
Thirteen suspected terror operatives were apprehended in the West Bank districts of Judea and Samaria.
According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Israeli forces utilized crowd dispersal means after a number of violent riots erupted in the village of Doha and the city of Nablus.
No injuries to the Israeli forces were reported in any of the incidents.
“Over the past 24 hours, our forces have fought terrorists in the heart of Nablus, we intercepted two UAVs (one from Syria and one from Gaza), and you know very well that in recent days we have been active beyond our borders against regimes that support terrorism and are plotting to destroy us,” commented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today during a visit at the Adam base, adding, “I would like to thank each and every one of you for the amazing work you are doing to defend our homeland and our state” and to “convey our praises ahead of the Passover holiday.”
Referencing deepening division among Israelis over his government’s contested judicial reform plans, Netanyahu pointed out, “Passover is the holiday of the departing from slavery to freedom. Approximately 3,500 years ago we emerged into freedom, arrived in our country, built here our existence, our identity, and then we were exiled from here. I remind you how we were exiled from here. Initially, we separated – the Kingdom of Judea and the Kingdom of Israel and consequently neither survived. Preserving our unity was the foundation of our return into being, independent in our country. We unified our forces and shoulder-to-shoulder repelled the enemy and reestablished the sovereignty of Israel. This sovereignty and the establishment of the Zionist state did not prevent efforts to annihilate us. This isn’t what happened here. What happened here is that we had the power to protect ourselves against those who seek to annihilate us. Because the oppressors keep changing their identities from generation to generation, they alternate; and for thousands of years, we didn’t have protective power.”
After the alarming politization of the Israeli military by reserve soldiers, who warned that they would abruptly end their voluntary service in light of their deep concerns over the judicial overhaul they perceive as detrimental to Israel’s democracy, Netanyahu once against highlighted the imperative need to remain united in all matters related to security.
“Without the IDF and without the security forces, there is no State of Israel. In order for there to be a State of Israel, we need to safeguard our unity. We need to safeguard our ability to defend ourselves against those who seek our lives. The most important thing, I will put it like this, is to leave politics at the gate of the (military) base and unite together in order to defend Israel’s eternity; for that, you are here. I thank you with all my heart for the amazing work that you are doing for this sacred goal,” he added.