3 Islamic Jihad gunmen killed by undercover forces in northern West Bank

Police say officers sought to arrest suspects but they opened fire from passing vehicle in Jaba’, south of Jenin; teen wounded in Tuesday clash dies

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

Palestinians inspect the car in which three gunmen were killed by Israeli forces in the village of Jaba' near the West Bank city of Jenin, March 9, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinians inspect the car in which three gunmen were killed by Israeli forces in the village of Jaba' near the West Bank city of Jenin, March 9, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Three Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen were shot dead by Israeli forces in the northern West Bank on Thursday morning during an attempted arrest raid, police said.

According to a Border Police spokesman, undercover officers entered the Palestinian village of Jaba’, south of Jenin, to arrest two men wanted for a series of shooting attacks against Israeli forces in the area and the nearby Israeli outpost of Homesh.

Amid the raid, the wanted Palestinians and another gunman opened fire from a passing vehicle at the troops, who returned fire, killing them, the spokesman said.

Police named Ahmed Fashafsha, 22, and Sufyan Fakhoury, 30, as the wanted Islamic Jihad operatives, and Nayef Malaysha, 25, as the third gunman, saying he had been released from an Israeli prison last month.

A local wing of the Islamic Jihad in Jaba’ confirmed the three members had been killed in what it called a “cowardly assassination operation.” It said the slain operatives and other Islamic Jihad gunmen had opened fire on Israeli forces.

The terror group also claimed to have downed an Israeli surveillance drone over the town.

Weapons seized by Israeli troops from Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen who tried to attack forces in the West Bank town of Jaba’ near Jenin, March 9, 2023. (Israel Police)

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed a Skylark drone had crashed amid the operation, but said the circumstances were still under investigation.

Several firearms and explosives were found in the suspects’ car, police said.

No officers were hurt during the clash.

During separate arrest raids early Thursday, the IDF said troops detained 15 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, with violent incidents in some areas.

The IDF said troops returned fire at Palestinian gunmen in the village of Silat al-Harithiya while arresting a wanted man.

No soldiers were hurt in the overnight raids.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up even further in recent weeks amid a cycle of Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

A string of Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 74 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

On Thursday morning, a 14-year-old Palestinian wounded during a raid in Jenin on Tuesday succumbed to his wounds, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said. The IDF said it only fired at gunmen and Palestinians rioting in Jenin amid that operation, which saw the alleged terrorist behind a deadly shooting attack in the northern West Bank town of Huwara killed.

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