The latest in a series of near-daily confrontations comes amid relentless efforts by Israel’s defense establishment to uproot terror elements as part of the ongoing Operation Waves Breaker.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) and Border Police Special Operations forces conducted counter-terrorism activity in the West Bank districts of Judea and Samaria overnight and yesterday, resulting in the arrest of five terror operatives.
While Israel was effectively shut down in observance of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, the Yom Kippur Day of Atonement, IDF and ISA forces tracked an Islamist Hamas terror operative responsible for shooting attacks on Israeli civilians.
A joint IDF and ISA statement said the wanted man was Salman Amran, 35, who carried out the shooting attack at an Israeli bus and taxi adjacent to the city of Nablus last Sunday; and had previously been imprisoned for being a part of a Hamas military network which plans attacks.
“The Egoz Unit was promptly deployed to the Shomron Region to conduct an arrest of the terrorist who committed the attack at the beginning of the week between Elon Moreh and Itamar (Jewish communities),” said the Commander of the Special Operations division, who can be identified as “Lieutenant Colonel M.”
Amran barricaded himself inside of a residential building in the West Bank town of Deir al-Hatab east of Nablus, from which he opened fire and hurled explosive devices at the surrounding Israeli forces. He is also believed to have recorded an audio message circulating on social media in which he appealed for more Palestinians to join his gun fight with the Israeli soldiers.
After hours of battle, Amran ultimately gave himself up.
“We conducted the arrest in daylight during which close range engagements with the terrorist, until the terrorist surrendered and was apprehended. We entered his hideout, canvassed it and seized the weapon of the terrorist,” commented Lt. Col. “M.,” who went on to pledge, “We will continue to operate with all necessary force to prevent terror in the Judea and Samaria districts and to provide security for the citizens.”
An M16 rifle used by the terrorist has been transferred to the ISA for further processing.
Elsewhere, Palestinian gunmen at several other locations shot at Israeli forces, who responded with live fire, fragmentation grenades and a bulldozer. A number of hits were confirmed and at least one Palestinian militant was reportedly killed.
“These clashes are part of an escalation in our resistance in the West Bank and is our people’s response to what is happening in the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem),” Hamas Spokesperson Hazem Qassem told Reuters.
Just ahead of Yom Kippur, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a security assessment at the IDF Central Command Headquarters.
“We find ourselves in a sensitive period and at the peak of Operation Waves Breaker, as part of which IDF forces and the defense establishment are deployed to all locations along borders, roads and communities for the purpose of protecting the residents,” he stated, emphasizing that the security establishment is doing “everything in our power to ensure soldiers or police officers are able to terrorist acts. Our forces will be stationed every place that is required, at all times and equipped with all necessary tools.”
In a stern warning to the nation’s enemies, Jerusalem’s top defense official underscored: “I say with clarity: Whomever seeks to harm, to perpetrate an act of terror against Israeli citizens is in our crosshairs. Whoever perpetrates such an act of terror, we will lay our hands upon them. We continue with activities which are broadly varied. These are executed with determination and responsibility and when executing targeted preventions, also on the diplomatic front and also from an economic perspective. Only a combined effort can bring about results.”
The latest actions are part of the half-year-long Operation Waves Breaker launched by Jerusalem’s defense establishment in the West Bank to counter a deadly surge of attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people between March and May 2022.
Since that time, IDF, ISA, and Border Police Special Operations forces have repeatedly come under attack during nightly raids during anti-terror activities.
In related developments, State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel addressed the United States call for exercise of “full respect for human rights both in Israel but also in the West Bank and Gaza,” stressing, “as we have said many times before, we believe that Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom.”
When asked about a official meetings between State Department officials and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Secretary General Hussein Al-Sheikh reportedly including a Two-State Solution and “the urgent need to improve the security environment,” Patel replied that the administration of President Joe Biden has been focused on renewing engagement with Palestinian leadership and deepening diplomatic ties with the Palestinians. He added that such policy was evident by talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the US leader’s regional tour last July.