image Photo: IDF

Major Israeli op in Jenin nets Huwara killer

The Hamas terrorist who murdered two Israelis brothers died in a gun-battle during a joint arrest raid by IDFIsrael Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) Border Police and its  Yamam Counter-terrorism Units.

By Erin Viner

Abd al-Fattah Hussein Ibrahim Gharusha was wanted for the point-blank shootings of IDF Staff Sergeant Hillel Menahim Yaniv and his brother Yagel Yaakov Yaniv in the flashpoint West Bank town of Huwara on 26 February.

The Israeli troops came under heavy fire immediately upon arrival in the Jenin Camp to capture the wanted terrorist, who had barricaded himself inside of a local residence. The Palestinian gunmen were filmed shooting at the Israeli troops from an ambulance, and used the vehicle as a shield.

The Israeli forces responded with live fire, including shoulder-launched missiles.

Multiple violent riots erupted in the area, during which explosive devices and blocks were hurled at the the Israeli soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire.

At least six Palestinian terror operatives were eliminated and some two dozen others were wounded during the extensive gun-battles.

“To our joy, the operation concluded successfully, and whoever raised a weapon against our forces was eliminated,” said Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai after the forces had vacated the area. He also disclosed that one Yamam officer was receiving hospital treatment for light-to-moderate injuries, while “a few other troops” were lightly injured by shrapnel.

In parallel, IDF soldiers operated in the city of Nablus, another center of terrorist activity, to apprehend two of Gharusha’s sons suspected of aiding and planning in the deadly terror attack on the Yaniv brothers. Both suspects were transferred to security forces for further questioning.

“IDF soldiers, ISA agents and Israel National Counter-Terrorism Unit officers have eliminated the abhorrent terrorist who murdered the two wonderful brothers, Hallel and Yigal Yaniv, in cold blood,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding, “Our brave soldiers acted with surgical precision in the heart of the murderers’ lair. I commend them and send my best wishes for a swift recovery to our wounded.”

The Israeli leader stressed, “As I have said repeatedly: Whoever harms us will pay the price.”

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip but also deploys fighters to the West Bank, identified Gharusha as a member and openly boasted that he had executed the double murders in Huwara.

All of the dead gunmen were identified by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as belonging to their terror groups, as well as the Fatah faction led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We call upon the fighters of our people everywhere to escalate armed resistance against the occupation and to fight them everywhere on the land of our occupied home,” threatened the Hamas’ Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades Military Wing.

Israeli security forces have been operating for over a year to root out Palestinian terror in the West Bank as part of Operation Waves Breaker, launched to counter a steep rise of deadly attacks on Israelis.

Jenin, one of the major hotbeds of militant activity in the West Bank where armed fighters parade openly, has been raided repeatedly by Israeli forces during months of violence – causing increased fears of a repeat of the Intifadas or Palestinian uprisings of the 1980s and early 2000s.

“The risk – not just to Palestine and to Israel but to the region – of the situation escalating out of hand is significant,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told reporters in the United Kingdom.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II voiced similar concerns earlier this week, telling visiting United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that ongoing violence in the disputed territories threatens stability across the entire region.

Worries are particularly high in the lead up to the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which has in latter years been besmirched by anti-Israeli violence.

In related developments, air raid sirens sent residents of Israel’s southern communities rushing to safety in bomb shelters overnight, after a rocket was launched from Gaza. Subsequent patrols by the IDF discovered that the rocket slammed into Israeli territory adjacent to the security fence with the lawless enclave.

Later in the morning, the IDF reported that an explosive device was detonated near troops conducting activity in the area of the Gaza Strip security barrier, with no injury to the soldiers.

IDF tanks retaliated by firing at a military post belonging to Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip.