2 Palestinians killed in overnight battle in northern West Bank

Undercover troops come under fire during arrest raid in Jenin refugee camp; Islamic Jihad claims one dead Palestinian as member

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Palestinians Shadi Najm, 19, (left) and Abdullah al-Housri, 22, who were killed in a gun battle with Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Jenin. (social media)
Palestinians Shadi Najm, 19, (left) and Abdullah al-Housri, 22, who were killed in a gun battle with Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Jenin. (social media)

Two Palestinians were killed in a firefight with Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Jenin early Tuesday morning.

The Israel Police said undercover Border Police officers came under fire while arresting a terror suspect in the Jenin refugee camp. The suspect, Emad Abu al-Heija, is the son of imprisoned senior Hamas official Jamal Abu al-Heija.

Palestinian media identified the two fatalities as 19-year-old Shadi Najm, and 22-year-old Abdullah al-Housri. The Islamic Jihad terror group immediately claimed al-Housri as a member.

Masked gunmen affiliated with Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in Jenin published a menacing video after al-Housri’s death, vowing revenge.

“Let the criminal enemy know that his soldiers and checkpoints and military will know no safety,” one of the gunmen said, reading out a prepared statement.

Video shared online showed at least one of the gunmen opening fire. There were no casualties among Israeli forces, police said, and the suspect was arrested.

Later, as the officers left the refugee camp, dozens of Palestinians hurled stones, Molotov cocktails, and a makeshift grenade at the officers, who responded with “riot dispersal means and live fire,” police said.

Images showed al-Housri’s body wrapped in the flag of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as the terror group’s logo on his firearm.

It was unclear whether the second Palestinian, Shadi al-Najm, was involved in the firefight. Witnesses who spoke to the Haaretz daily said al-Najm was unarmed.

The West Bank has seen a rise in violent confrontations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in recent weeks.

Last week, a Palestinian teen was shot dead by Israeli troops while allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at passing cars on Route 60 near Bethlehem.

A week before that a 19-year-old was shot and killed near Nebi Saleh after allegedly throwing firebombs at a military post, although Palestinian witnesses dispute the matter.

Another Palestinian teen was killed that week during a firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the town of Silat al-Harithiya, near Jenin. The troops had arrived after dark to demolish part of a home belonging to a Palestinian charged in a terror attack in which yeshiva student Yehuda Dimentman was killed near the Homesh outpost in December.

Israeli undercover police killed three other Palestinians during a rare daytime raid in the West Bank city of Nablus last month. The Israeli troops fired dozens of rounds into the car before seizing two M-16 rifles from the vehicle and driving away from the scene.

Israeli defense officials said the three were behind a string of recent shooting attacks on military posts in the Jenin area. They were later claimed as members by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a loose coalition of armed groups affiliated with the ruling Fatah party.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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