IDF: at least 4 terrorists killed in clashes before dawn; 2 seriously injured soldiers


Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen exchanged gunfire in at least four West Bank towns on Sunday morning before dawn in a series of raids aimed at capturing members of a Hamas cell, the Forces said. defense forces.

According to the IDF, at least four terrorists were killed in the shootings, but possibly more. The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry reported five Palestinian victims of clashes in Biddu, near Jerusalem, and outside Jenin.

An IDF officer and a soldier were seriously injured in the shooting outside Jenin, the army said. Information about the Israeli victims was initially banned from publication by military censors until the families of the military could be informed.

The two soldiers, members of Duvdevan’s counterterrorism unit, were taken by helicopter to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment. The head of the hospital’s trauma unit said the two were in serious and unstable condition and had already undergone a number of surgeries, but that there was no direct threat to their lives due of their “always serious and complicated injuries”.

It is not immediately clear who fired the shots that injured the two men. The military said the matter – including the possibility that they were hit by friendly fire – was under investigation.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said at least one of the terrorists killed during the night was a member of the terrorist group. The others are said to be members of Hamas.

The arrest raids were carried out throughout the West Bank, primarily by the elite Duvdevan Army counterterrorism unit and the Israel Police and Border Police counterterrorism units, as well as the security service. of the Shin Bet.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the Hamas cell plans to carry out terrorist attacks imminently.

“Security forces acted tonight in Judea and Samaria against Hamas terrorists who were about to carry out terrorist attacks in the immediate future,” Bennett said in a statement, en route to New York to speak at the United Nations General Assembly, using the biblical term. for the West Bank.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leaves for the United States on September 26, 2021 (Avi Ohayon / GPO)

The IDF declined to comment more specifically on what the alleged Hamas cell was suspected of doing, but said most operatives were arrested with weapons in their possession and some of them opened fire on the troops. Israeli women during the raids.

IDF spokesman Ran Kochav said the military believed Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad could respond to the death and arrest of its operatives with rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Earlier this month, the Islamic Jihad did the same in solidarity with its operatives who escaped from Israeli jail and were later captured by Israeli security forces.

Hamas praised the gunmen who were killed, vowing that “the blood of the martyrs of Jerusalem and Jenin at the dawn of today will continue to fuel the revolution of our people against the Zionist occupier” .

A Palestinian protester burns tires at the entrance to the West Bank village of Burqin on September 26, 2021 (Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP)

The terrorist group criticized its rivals in the Palestinian Authority as well as Israel, claiming that the Palestinian Authority’s policy of coordinating with Israel to suppress Palestinian terrorist groups in the West Bank led to the raid.

“The death of today’s martyrs is the consequence of the ongoing security coordination with the Zionist occupation. This is the result of the normalization meetings that PA leaders have held with Zionist ministers and members of the Knesset in Ramallah, ”Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said, saying reference to a recent meeting between some PA officials and retired Israeli parliamentarians.

The overnight operation began late Saturday night with an infiltrated raid on the West Bank flashpoint town of Jenin in which Duvdevan’s troops arrested one of the armed operatives without resistance.

Shortly after midnight, Duvdevan led another raid in Kafr Dan, north of Jenin. The soldiers then captured an armed suspect without an exchange of fire.

On the Sunday morning before dawn, Duvdevan’s soldiers entered the village of Burqin near Jenin to arrest another armed suspect.

Palestinian media reported that the gunshots broke out after Israeli troops surrounded the house in which the suspect was hiding and asked him to come out.

According to Kochav, the armed terrorist was injured in the shooting with Israeli troops and captured, with his weapon.

Nearby, in Burqin, there was a second shootout between Palestinian gunmen and Duvdevan troops and an Israeli police counterterrorism unit. At least one of the gunmen was killed in the exchange, Kochav said.

He was later identified in Palestinian media as 22-year-old Osama Sobah. Islamic Jihad then identified him as a member of the terrorist organization.

Also in the Jenin region, troops from the border police’s counterterrorism unit arrested a fourth armed suspect in the town of Qabatiya without resistance, the IDF spokesman said.

Finally, during a raid by the Israel Police Yamam counterterrorism unit in the villages of Bidu and Beit Anan near Ramallah as part of the operation, at least three Hamas operatives were killed after opening fire. on Israeli troops, according to Kochav.

No Israeli soldiers were injured in this exchange, he said.

One of the killed was identified as Ahmad Zahran.

Although Israel conducts arrest raids in the West Bank every night, these generally do not result in an exchange of gunfire, although stone-throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks on Israeli vehicles are relatively common. .

The past few months have seen a spike in violence in the West Bank, with more frequent shootings between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants, as well as attacks on civilians and Israeli soldiers.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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