Five Israeli soldiers and the driver were injured after Palestinian gunmen sprayed bullets at the vehicle in a drive-by shooting, before setting it on fire.
By Erin Viner
The incident occurred near the Beka’ot moshav community in the Jordan Valley within driving distance of the Palestinian cities of Jenin and Nablus about 1:45 PM yesterday.
The terror cell opened fire from a pickup truck after trailing and bypassing a bus transporting new Kfir Brigade recruits on Route 578. After the bus came to a halt, a firebomb thrown by the terrorists exploded inside as troops exchanged fire with the gunmen. A eyewitness to the attack was cited by Israeli media as saying she saw the assailants also hosing bus with gasoline before it erupted in flames.
The 60-year-old civilian driver sustained serious injuries and one soldier with moderate wounds were evacuated by helicopter for emergency medical treatment. The other injured troops were transferred to medical facilities for care.
The terrorists attempted to flee the scene but had to abandon their truck after it also caught fire. Two of the suspects in possession of two M16 rifle guns were captured a short time later by Israeli security forces.
“We will continue to put our hands on whoever tries to harm the people and soldiers of the State of Israel,” stressed Prime Minister Yair Lapid in a statement commending security forces and first responders for their swift response to the attack.
After conveying his best wishes for the complete recovery for those injured in the Jordan Valley attack, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed to “persist and intensify our pinpointed activities against terror and perpetrators and its financial backers.”
Echoing that statement, IDF Jordan Valley Regional Brigade Commander Colonel Meir Biderman said, “we will not rest until all of the terrorists have been captured.”
Palestinian terror groups immediately praised the attack.
“The action of the heroes and the ongoing resistance is part of the response of the Palestinian people to the crimes of the Zionist occupation,” said Hamas Spokesman Hazem Qassem, lauding the “a guerrilla resistance action” as a symbol of “the revolutionary pride in the West Bank.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Spokeman Daoud Shihab declared that, “neither the policy of arrests and assassinations nor Israeli crimes will limit the power of the resistance – but the opposite. The battles of the resistance give strength to the youth who revolt and give more determination to the resistance fighters throughout Palestine.” Israel waged the 55-hour Operation Breaking Dawn battle against the Iranian proxy-PIJ in August.
Just hours after the Jordan Valley attack, four IDF soldiers were injured near Nabi Salah north of Ramallah when a Palestinian terrorist hurled an improvised explosive device in their direction. One of the troops is listed as being in light-to-moderate condition, while the three others sustained light injuries.
The latest surge of violence comes amid soaring tensions in the West Bank.
IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) and police forces are conducting ongoing counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria by as part of Operation Waves Breaker in the wake of a deadly surge of attacks against Israelis that left 19 people dead earlier this year.
The raids are being carried out “to thwart terrorist activity on Israeli territory” with the objective to “calm things down, not to escalate the confrontations,” emphasized Prime Minister Lapid at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, adding, “We will continue with the policy that says: We will respond with a heavy hand – including socio-economically – against places from which terrorism originates. In places where quiet is maintained, we will make every effort to enable routine and to advance the Palestinian economy.”
This morning an Arab rioter was killed in clashes with the IDF, said the Palestinian Health Ministry. The IDF confirmed that soldiers in and around Jenin responded with live fire after local Palestinians hurled firebombs during the arrests of five wanted suspects.
Altogether, seventeen terror suspects were apprehended in overnight and early morning counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria.
According to a statement from the IDF, soldiers operated in the town of Tubas as part of the efforts to locate the third assailant who carried out the Jordan Valley attack yesterday. Additional IDF, ISA and Israel Border Police forces carried out missions in the Jordan Valley area, including the towns of Kufr al-Dik, Zeita, Deir Abu Masha’al and Beit Ummar.
Violent riots erupted in Jenin and town of Qabatiya during the arrests of five terror suspects. The rioters hurled firebombs, explosive devices and rocks at the troops, who responded with live fire.
Other riots were instigated during operations in Al-Bireh, Al-Tira, Ramallah, the Beit al-Ma’ Camp and Qabalan; although there were no reported injuries to the Israeli forces.
IDF soldiers operating in the city of Hebron apprehended four wanted individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activity, while also seizing over 10,000 shekels (₪ 1 shekel – $0.29 / € 0.30 Euro) worth of funds designated for terror activity, weapons and ammunition.