Two fighters of the Palestinian terrorist group were killed in a fierce clash with Israeli soldiers during a pre-dawn raid near the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces announced that the special forces of the Harvu and Dovdan units entered the nearby town of Wadi Burqin to arrest three Palestinians suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.
The troops came under heavy fire during the operation and returned fire, the military said, adding that “hits were detected.”
The dead were identified as Muhammad Ayman Saadi of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Naim Zubeidi of the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, although the various armed groups are working together in Jenin against the IDF.
The Israeli army and the Shin Bet security agency announced in a joint statement that the two were top terrorist operatives. Both dead gunmen were in their 20s but had previously served time in Israeli prisons for security offences.
The statement said Saadi was a “prominent PIJ military operative” who was responsible for a series of shooting attacks against troops and arming other operatives under the orders of the PIJ leadership.
*Al-Shaheed al-Qaid al-Midani “Mohammed Ayman al-Saadi” Abu Yahtiq* to Radwanullah or Asad al-Katibah pic.twitter.com/pOtmjL6I12
— Abu Jamil al-Azazi #Gaza#Palestine??????? (@abu_jamil_) December 1, 2022
The statement said that Zabeidi is also responsible for numerous shootings at Israeli forces in the West Bank. Palestinian media say that Zubeidi is a relative of Zakaria Zubeidi, the notorious terrorist of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Battalion, who planned terrorist attacks during the second intifada and managed to escape from Israeli prison for a short time last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the operation and said that the two had planned and executed terrorist attacks in Israel.
“The activity of the Israeli army and security forces tonight in Jenin is a direct continuation of our uncompromising policy in the fight against terrorism. These two seniors [terroritsts] Lapid wrote on his Twitter that a field commander of the Islamic Jihad in Jenin and a senior member of Al-Aqsa Brigades were killed in Jenin, they planned and executed terrorist attacks on Israeli soil.
Referring to the criticisms of the right-wing legislators, he said: “In these stormy days when irresponsible parties are trying to drag the Israeli army into an extreme discussion and incite the soldiers against their commanders, I want to appreciate the security forces.” Punishment of the soldier who taunted an activist in Hebron last week.
This is the way to fight terrorism, this is the way to protect the citizens of Israel. Take care.”
Jenin Battalion: “Nani Aqil, the commander of Saraya al-Quds al-Aqeem, the martyr al-Qa’id al-Midani, Muhammad Ayman al-Saadi “Abu Yahtiq” (26 years old), the commander of the Jenin Battalion, and the martyr al-Batal, the commander of Al-Zallah al-Shamakh Walsand. The assassination operation of Jabana Fajr al-Yum. pic.twitter.com/6mVDyzRoZ2
— Shehab Agency (@ShehabAgency) December 1, 2022
The soldiers also seized three M-16 assault rifles during the raid, the IDF said.
Palestinian media reported that 20 people were wounded to varying degrees, and Jenin Hospital declared a state of emergency and asked local people to come donate blood.
The Israeli army said that no soldiers were injured in the operation.
In a statement on Thursday morning, the Islamic Jihad spokesman promised to make Israel pay for the “heinous crime”.
Over the past year, the Gaza-based PIJ has fired rockets into Israel in response to the killing or capture of its members in the West Bank.
Hundreds of residents of Jenin were filmed attending the funeral of a slain fighter who was discharged from the city’s hospital.
The Jenin refugee camp and surrounding areas have been identified as a hotbed of terror by the Israeli military, which says it has been forced to expand the city in the PA-controlled West Bank’s Area A since it lost control. Palestine to operate. in the area. Ramallah believes that Israel’s attacks only harm its legitimacy in the West Bank.
The couple killed on Thursday morning were the seventh and eighth Palestinians to be killed in the West Bank in less than three days.
Witness Press coverage: “Hashda procession carrying the bodies of the martyrs Muhammad Al-Saadi and Naeem Al-Zabidi and searching the streets of the camp.” #Fetus “. pic.twitter.com/pHdZbFfuHu
— Shehab Agency (@ShehabAgency) December 1, 2022
On Wednesday afternoon, one person was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers in the city of Habad in the north of the West Bank. Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with the Israeli army across the West Bank on Tuesday, and another was killed in a car attack that seriously injured a soldier earlier in the day.
Tensions have been high in the West Bank for the past year, with the Israeli military launching a major counter-terrorist offensive focused more on the northern West Bank to counter a series of Palestinian attacks that have killed 31 people in Israel. And it became the West Bank. Since the beginning of the year.
The operation has arrested more than 2,500 people in overnight raids, but has also claimed the lives of more than 150 Palestinians, many — but not all — killed during the raids or in clashes with security forces.
Israeli soldiers arrested six other wanted Palestinians during overnight raids in the West Bank and seized a handgun, the Israeli army said.
Last month, the UN’s Middle East envoy said 2022 would be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the UN began tracking casualties in 2005.
At the same time, settler attacks against Palestinians and security forces have increased sharply.
The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.