image Photo: IDF

Major Israeli counter-terror raid in Nablus

Deadly clashes erupted in the West Bank Palestinian city during a rare daytime mission by  IDF, Israeli Security Agency (ISA)and Border Police Special Operations forces.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

The Israeli security forces launched the operation in search of three wanted members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group, responsible for repeated shooting attacks against IDF troops in Judea and Samaria. The cell was also suspected of planning imminent attacks against Israelis.

The fugitives failed to surrender after their hideout was located in a residential building. A gun battle broke out a group of armed militants arrived, when they and the suspects opened heavy fire at the Israeli troops.

Eleven Palestinians were killed in the violence, at least eight of whom were confirmed as operatives of the Iranian-proxy PIJ. Two of those who died were later identified as civilians caught in the crossfire. Over 100 others, including armed terrorists, were injured predominantly due to smoke inhalation.

There were no Israeli casualties, an army statement said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today congratulated the nation’s defense establishment for its operational success in eliminating the three wanted PIJ terrorists whom he revealed shot and murdered Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch this past October.

“We always say that we will settle accounts with those who attack Israeli civilians and IDF solders, and we have done so again. I would like to commend the ISA and IDF Intelligence for the precise intelligence, and to thank the soldiers who acted with heroism and confidence under fire,” said the Israeli leader.

He went on to warn that Israel “will continue to take strong action on all fronts, near and far, in order to thwart our enemies’ efforts to attack us. Whoever tries to harm us – will pay the price.”

PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah declared the Israeli counter-terror operations against his group amount to “a huge crime.” The group has vowed to avenge the deaths of its members, two of whom were labelled as senior field commanders in the flashpoint city of Nablus.

The Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza, another Palestinian terror group that sometimes fights alongside the Islamic Jihad, identified four of the dead gunmen as members. “The resistance in Gaza is monitoring the escalating crimes conducted by the enemy against our people in the occupied West Bank and is running out of patience,” Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the Hamas’ Qassam Brigades armed wing, wrote on Telegram.

Spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, also issued a statement condemning “the occupation’s raid into Nablus and we call for an end to the continued attacks against our people.”

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are sworn to Israel’s destruction but have in the past observed Egyptian-mediated truces with it.

Nablus and nearby Jenin have been a focus of Operation Waves Breaker against Palestinian terrorism.

In other developments, a Palestinian woman armed with a knife approached civilian security guards at the entrance to town of Ma’ale Adumim today. She was subsequently shot in her lower extremities after ignoring orders to halt, in accordance with the IDF Rules of Engagement. The assailant was evacuated to a Jerusalem hospital in moderate condition after receiving treatment at the scene by Israeli medical teams.