Police chief says gunmen killed in attack on Israel

Three members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, who were killed during a night-long detention operation in the West Bank, have set out to attack Israel, Police Commissioner Kobe Shabtai said on Saturday.

Earlier, security officials said a number of scenarios were being considered, the most likely being that the cell planned to cross into Israeli territory from the West Bank and carry out a shooting attack similar to that earlier this week in Bnei Brak, which killed five people. were killed.

“I have just visited Yamama fighters, who before dawn liquidated a terrorist cell that was going to attack Israeli territory,” Shabtai told reporters at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where several officers were injured in the incident. hospitalized.

It was believed that less likely scenarios were that the cell planned to infiltrate a settlement in the West Bank and kill the family, or carry out a shooting attack on a passing car. The latter was considered unlikely due to a reduction in the number of vehicles with Jewish passengers on the Sabbath in the West Bank.

Officials described the three members of the cell as “ticking bombs” who were ready to carry out the attack.

Three were killed and four Israeli soldiers were wounded during a detention operation in the Jenin area of ​​the West Bank before dawn on Saturday morning. Police said the suspects opened fire, sparking a shootout.

One of the Israeli officers was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to Rambam Hospital. He underwent surgery and was hospitalized in intensive care, where he is said to be in stable condition. He was later identified as a senior officer with years of experience in counterterrorism operations.

Three other servicemen received minor injuries, including one who was released from hospital later Saturday morning, officials said.

Hours after the clash, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group said the three killed were members of its military wing, and named them 30-year-old Saib Abahar from the village of Yamun near Jenin; Khalil Twalba, 24, of Jenin; and Saif Abu Libda, 25, of Tulkarma.

According to the news site Ynet, Abu Labada was previously imprisoned for terrorism crimes, including possession of weapons, and Abahara was imprisoned for criminal acts.

Hours after the attack, Israeli forces surrounded a house in the town of Shuwayka near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Palestinian media reported.

Videos posted online show several armored vehicles in the area, and the military later said one man – a suspect in being a member of a cell killed overnight – had been arrested.

The M16 rifle and ammunition it was said to have been confiscated during a rare daytime raid.

The military said security officials believed the suspect wanted to carry out an attack to avenge the deaths of cell members.

“The detention was carried out in broad daylight, and it is estimated that the wanted man was trying to respond to the liquidation of the detachment with another attack,” the military said.

Weapons and ammunition confiscated from a suspected member of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank city of Shuwayka, near Tulkarm, on April 2, 2022 (Israeli Defense Forces)

A separate suspect was shot and arrested by the military near Arraba, where a firefight took place at night, Palestinian media reported.

The condition of the suspect is unknown.

After the night operation, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad promised revenge and said it would continue to attack Israel.

An official of the terrorist group said that the murder of three was a dangerous escalation, according to the public television and radio company Kahn.

“The resistance will not sit idly by and will not suffer for a long time in the face of these crimes,” said Tarek Az Aldin.

The firefight began at night when terrorism suspects opened fire on an Israeli team from the Yamam elite counter-terrorism unit of the Border Police, which was trying to arrest them.

Shin Beth’s Homeland Security Service said the suspects were in a car while fighting Israeli troops in the village of Arraba, southwest of Jenin.

“Information has been received about a terrorist group that was going to carry out the attack,” police said, adding that the group was also involved in recent terrorist attacks against Israeli security forces.

The suspects were under Shin Beth’s supervision for several hours before the shooting, and Israeli troops found firearms and grenades in their car.

Police have released images of weapons believed to be in the suspects’ car, including an M16 assault rifle, at least two magazines for 30 rounds and a hand grenade.

Weapons and ammunition confiscated from members of the Islamic Jihad after the shooting in the West Bank, April 2, 2022 (Israeli police)

A will was found in the car of the terrorism suspects, in which it was written that the attacks on Israel must continue.

The handwritten note was signed on behalf of Islamic Jihad.

The detention operation was a joint effort involving Yamama, Shin Beth and the ISIS, police said.

The incident came amid rising tensions in Israel and the West Bank, including in the Jenin area.

A series of three deadly terrorist attacks in Israel in the week killed 11 people, including a shooting on Tuesday that killed five people, which put Israeli security forces on high alert. The escalation came when the Muslim holiday of Ramadan began, often a period of high tension in Israel and the West Bank.

One of the three attacks was carried out by Palestinians from the Jenin area; two other Israeli citizens who declare their affiliation with the Islamic State.

Also on Thursday, a 28-year-old Israeli man was seriously injured when he was attacked by another bus passenger, a Palestinian armed with a screwdriver, near the West Bank settlement of Daniel’s Neva, south of Jerusalem.

Also Thursday, at least two Palestinian gunmen were killed in a shootout with the Israeli military when riot police entered Jenin during a rare day raid as part of a large-scale anti-terrorist operation following recent attacks. At least 14 other Palestinians were injured in the incident, and dozens were arrested during the operation.

Palestinian militants participate in the funeral of two Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces during the clashes during their funeral in Jenin, West Jordan, March 31, 2022 (Nasser Ishtayeh / Flash90)

In response, Gaza’s ruling terrorist group, Hamas, has threatened to escalate violence against Israel.

On Friday, Palestinian Authority health officials said a 29-year-old Palestinian man had been killed by Israeli fire during clashes with soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron. The IDF confirmed that troops had opened fire and struck a man in Hebron, saying he had “thrown an incendiary bomb at the military, endangering their lives”.

Israel has stepped up security in response to attacks and has deployed additional forces in the West Bank, on the Gaza Strip and in major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Friday’s reports say Israeli security officials have specific warnings of imminent terrorist attacks and have thwarted a number of other planned attacks in recent days.

Public broadcaster Kan reported on Friday that Defense Minister Beni Ganz and IDF leader Aviv Kohavi had ordered the military to prepare for a monthly escalation.

Israeli officials have sought to defuse tensions ahead of Ramadan amid fears that violence could escalate into a snowball and turn into the same unrest that rocked Israel in May 2021 when Hamas began firing rockets at Israel, sparking an 11-day war with Gaza several days of unrest between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

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