5 Palestinian gunmen killed, Israeli officer seriously hurt in 12-hour West Bank op

Troops raid town near Tulkarem to eliminate terror cell behind recent attacks; airstrikes, shoulder-launched missiles, bulldozers used against building where suspects were holed up

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

Israeli troops operate in the town of Dayr al-Ghusun, near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli troops operate in the town of Dayr al-Ghusun, near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

An officer in police’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit was seriously wounded and five Palestinian gunmen, members of a terror cell, were killed Saturday during a raid in the West Bank town of Dayr al-Ghusun, authorities said.

The Israel Defense Forces and police said in a joint statement that troops operated in the town, near Tulkarem, to eliminate the terror cell that was responsible for the murder of an Israeli and the injury of others in recent terror attacks in the West Bank.

The terror cell was planning additional attacks, including bombings, the military said.

Five members of the cell, who were holed up in a building, were killed following a gun battle that lasted some 12 hours, the statement said.

After coming under fire from the building, troops carried out a tactic known as “pressure cooker” that involves escalating the volume of fire directed at a building to force suspects to come out.

Armored bulldozers demolished part of the building, troops fired several shoulder-launched missiles at the structure, and a Hermes 450 drone carried out two airstrikes, according to the IDF.

Smoke rises following an explosion during an Israeli military raid in the town of Dayr al-Ghusun, near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Troops also seized several weapons amid the raid, the military added.

According to the military, the terrorists had carried out a deadly shooting attack near the West Bank town of Bayt Lid on November 2, killing off-duty IDF reservist Sgt. First Class (res.) Elhanan Klein.

In another attack, on April 7, members of the cell carried out a shooting attack and attempted car bombing on the Route 55 highway, wounding two Israelis, including an off-duty soldier on a bus.

The IDF identified four of the cell members as Adnan Samara, 40, a Hamas operative who had been previously jailed for terror activity; Alaa Shreiteh, 45, a Hamas operative previously jailed by Israel between 2002 and 2016; Tamer Faqha, 32, a Hamas operative; and Asal Badran, 42, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative previously jailed by Israel.

The military said troops had detained a fifth member of the cell.

The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry also named the four gunmen and said that an additional, unidentified Palestinian, was killed in the raid.

According to the PA’s official Wafa news agency, four of the bodies were taken by Israeli troops, while the fifth, the unidentified man, was found under the rubble and brought to a local hospital.

The wounded police officer was taken to Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva, which said he was listed in “very serious” condition.

“The medical staff at Beilinson Hospital are fighting for his life,” the medical center said.

Israeli soldiers remove a body from a demolished home during a raid in the occupied West Bank town of Dayr al-Ghusun near Tulkarem on May 4, 2024. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Violence in the West Bank, already on the rise before October 7 — when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people and abduct over 250 — has escalated throughout the war sparked by the onslaught, with frequent army raids on terror groups, deadly Palestinian attacks, and rampages by Jewish settlers in Palestinian villages, at times also deadly.

Since October 7, troops have arrested some 3,850 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,650 affiliated with Hamas, the IDF has said.

According to the PA health ministry, more than 490 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time. The IDF says the vast majority of them were gunmen killed amid raids or terrorists carrying out attacks.

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