Two high-ranking fighters of a terrorist group killed by the IDF during a raid near Jenin
Two Palestinian terror group fighters were killed in heavy clashes with Israeli troops that erupted during a pre-dawn arrest near the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces said special forces from Haruv and Duvedan units entered the neighboring town of Wadi Burkin to arrest three Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities.
The military said the troops came under heavy fire during the operation and returned fire of their own, adding that “hits have been identified”.
The victims were identified as Muhammad Ayman Saadi of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Naim Zubeidi of the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, although the various armed factions are known to work together in Jenin against the IDF.
The IDF and the Shin Bet security agency said in a joint statement that the two were high-ranking terrorists. Both of the slain shooters were in their 20s, but had already served time in Israeli prisons for security violations.
Saadi was a “prominent PIJ military operative” responsible for a series of shooting attacks on troops and the arming of other operatives under the direction of PIJ leadership, the statement said.
* The Martyr Field Commander “Mohammed Ayman Al-Saadi” “Abu Al-Yamen”* For God’s sake, O Lion of the Battalion pic.twitter.com/pOtmjL6I12
– Abu Jamil Al-Azazi #Gaza #Palestine ???????? (@abu_jamil_) December 1, 2022
The statement said Zubeidi was also responsible for multiple shootings against Israeli forces in the West Bank. Palestinian media said Zubeidi is a relative of Zakaria Zubeidi, a notorious Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist who masterminded the terror attacks during the Second Intifada and briefly escaped from an Israeli prison last year.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the operation, saying the two had planned and carried out terrorist attacks in Israel.
“The activity of IS and security forces tonight in Jenin is a direct extension of our uncompromising policy in the fight against terrorism. The two seniors [terroritsts] who were killed, a field commander of Islamic Jihad in Jenin and a senior member of Al-Aqsa Brigades in Jenin, planned and carried out terrorist attacks on Israeli territory,” Lapid said on Twitter.
“Precisely in these stormy days, when irresponsible parties are trying to draw the IDF into an extreme debate and encourage soldiers against their commanders, I want to express my gratitude to the security forces,” he said, referring to the right-wing lawmakers criticism for punishment for a soldier who mocked 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 of yourself,” Lapid added.
Jenin Battalion: “We mourn the most prominent heroic leaders of the Al-Quds Brigades, field commander-martyr Muhammad Ayman Al-Saadi “Abu Al-Yamen” (26 years old), commander of the Jenin Battalion, and the heroic martyr, a man of high shadow and supporter of the resistance, the great commander Naeem Jamal Zubaidi (27 years old), who rose after the cowardly killing at dawn today.” pic.twitter.com/6mVDyzRoZ2
– Shehab News Agency (@ShehabAgency) December 1, 2022
Troops also confiscated three M-16 assault rifles during the operation, the IDF said.
Palestinian media reported that around 20 people were injured to varying degrees, and Jenin Hospital declared a state of emergency, urging locals to come and donate blood.
The IDF reported that no soldiers were injured in the operation.
In a statement early Thursday, an Islamic Jihad spokesman vowed to exact a price on Israel for the “heinous crime.”
Over the past year, the Gaza-based PIJ has fired rockets into Israel in response to West Bank members being killed or arrested.
Hundreds of Jenin residents were filmed taking part in a funeral procession for one of the slain fighters, which left the city’s hospital.
The Jenin refugee camp and surrounding area have been identified as a terrorist hotbed by the IDF, which says it has been forced to operate widely in the city, which is in Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A of the West Bank, since the PA lost control of Area B. Ramallah claims that the Israeli attacks only further damage its legitimacy in the West Bank.
The two killed early Thursday morning were the seventh and eighth Palestinians killed in the West Bank in less than three days.
viewed| Press coverage: “Mass march carrying the bodies of the Shah, condemning Mohammed Al-Saadi and Naim Al-Zubaidi, and roaming the streets of the camp # Embryo “. pic.twitter.com/pHdZbFfuHu
– Shehab News Agency (@ShehabAgency) December 1, 2022
One was killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the northern West Bank town of Yabed on Wednesday afternoon. They were four Palestinians killed in clashes with IS across the West Bank on Tuesday and another Palestinian was killed after carrying out a car ram attack that seriously injured a soldier the same day.
Tensions in the West Bank have been high over the past year, with the IDF launching a major counter-terrorism offensive focused mostly on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 31 dead in Israel and the West Bank since the start of the year.
The operation resulted in more than 2,500 arrests in almost nightly actions, but also left more than 150 Palestinians dead, many – but not all – while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.
The IDF said troops arrested six other wanted Palestinians during overnight raids in the West Bank and seized a gun.
Last month, the UN Middle East envoy said 2022 was on track to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the UN began tracking deaths in 2005.
At the same time, there has been a sharp rise in settler attacks on Palestinians and security forces.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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