2 soldiers lightly hurt by firebomb during West Bank raid
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2 soldiers lightly hurt by firebomb during West Bank raid

Troops conduct arrest operation and sweeps in Palestinian areas, as renewed violence continues into its fifth day

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative photo of a Palestinian hurling a Molotov cocktail toward Israeli security forces during clashes, near the city of Hebron, in the West Bank, on October 11, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
Illustrative photo of a Palestinian hurling a Molotov cocktail toward Israeli security forces during clashes, near the city of Hebron, in the West Bank, on October 11, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

Two IDF soldiers were lightly injured by a Molotov cocktail thrown at them during an arrest raid in the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, early Tuesday morning, officials said.

The soldiers had entered the refugee camp in the early hours of Tuesday morning to arrest three men suspected of taking part in violent demonstrations and rock throwing. It was among a series of raids conducted throughout the West Bank, by the end of which some 27 Palestinians were taken into custody, the army said.

During the Deheishe incident, local residents threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers, injuring two of them, according to an IDF statement.

The Israeli force drove back the rock and firebomb throwers with “riot dispersal means,” the army said.

The wounded soldiers were taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment. One sustained second-degree burns from the firebomb, while the second suffered from smoke inhalation, a spokesperson for the hospital said.

The soldier who inhaled smoke “will almost definitely be released home sometime this morning,” the spokesperson said.

However, the soldier who was scorched by the Molotov cocktail “has been hospitalized for further treatment,” she added.

In the Abu Sneina neighborhood of Hebron, where a Palestinian man allegedly tried to stab an IDF soldier on Monday night, the army conducted “sweeps of the area,” during which they found “a drill press for the manufacturing of weapons, commando knives, bullets and other military equipment,” according to a statement.

Additional illicit military equipment, including a hunting rifle, was seized in Bani Za’id, outside of Ariel, and in Attil, northeast of Tulkarem, the army said.

IDF soldiers carry out overnight raids on West Bank towns and villages on September 19, 2016. (IDF Spokesman's Unit)
IDF soldiers carry out overnight raids on West Bank towns and villages on September 19, 2016. (IDF Spokesman’s Unit)

In addition to the three arrests in Deheishe, IDF troops picked up two alleged members of the Hamas terrorist organization in the Jenin area, along with 22 people suspected of rock throwing and rioting from villages and cities around the West Bank, the army said.

The suspects have all been processed for further interrogation, the IDF said.

Since Friday, Jerusalem and the West Bank have seen daily attacks by Palestinians, with all but one directed against Israeli security forces.

The most recent attack, on Tuesday morning, saw a Palestinian teenager shot and killed while attempting to stab an IDF soldier near Bani Na’im, outside of Hebron, the army said. The Palestinian health ministry identified him as Issa Salem Tarayrah, 16.

The renewed surge in attacks caught many Israelis by surprise, as the violence that marked 2015 and early 2016 appeared to have waned in recent months, and raised fears that regular attacks could return.

Officials fear the upcoming Jewish holidays and the recently ended Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday could be behind the raised tensions.

The holiday and the month of September “are always more susceptible to spikes in violent Palestinian activities,” a military official, speaking anonymously, said Saturday.

“The motivation and inspiration to carry out attacks against Israelis remains strong,” the official said.

In the past year, Israel saw a wave of so-called “lone wolf” Palestinian terror attacks, which has claimed the lives of 35 Israelis and four foreign nationals since October 2015. Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed in the past year, with the Israeli army and police saying that most of those killed were attackers or involved in clashes with security forces.

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