Eleven Palestinians were killed as heavy gun battles broke out between Israeli forces and gunmen Wednesday in Nablus after the military entered the northern West Bank city to arrest a number of terror suspects.
The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry said that in addition to 11 people confirmed dead, 102 Palestinians were hurt in the clashes, seven of them seriously. It did not specify the involvement among those killed and wounded.
The ministry identified them as Adnan Saabe Baara, 72, Anan Shawkat Annab, 66, Abdul Hadi Abdul Aziz Ashqar, 61, Mohammad Farid Shaaban, 16, Tamer Nimr Minawi, 33, Mohammad Khaled Anbousi, 25, Musab Munir Awais, 26, Hussam Bassam Isleem, 24, and Mohammad Abdul Fattah, 23, Walid Riyad Dkhail, 23, and Jaser Jamil Qanier, 23.
The Israel Defense Forces said troops had entered Nablus to arrest Isleem, a senior member of the Lion’s Den terror group, who was allegedly the third member of a cell that killed Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch during a shooting attack in October. The other two were detained last week.
A military source told The Times of Israel that soldiers surrounded a home where three suspects, all members of the Lion’s Den terror group, were holed up, demanding they turn themselves in. Officers of the elite police Yamam unit fired missiles at the building, to flush the men out in a technique known as “pressure cooker.”
Two of the suspects were killed inside the building, while the third was shot dead while he tried to escape.
Soldiers later found two firearms and ammunition in the building, the IDF said.
The IDF named the other two Lion’s Den members as Fattah and Dkhail. The military said Fattah was also affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and all three men had participated in shooting attacks against Israeli forces in the northern West Bank.
Lion’s Den and the Islamic Jihad later claimed six of the fatalities as members.
Clashes erupted elsewhere in the city. The IDF said troops came under “massive gunfire,” and responded with live fire at gunmen.
The IDF was anticipating a response to the deadly raid, a senior military official told reporters.
“The resistance in Gaza is watching the enemy’s escalating crimes against our people,” Abu Obeida, spokesman of the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group’s military wing, said in a statement.
تغطية صحفية: "الفلسطينيون العشرة الذين ارتقوا برصاص الاحتلال خلال مـــجزرة نابلس اليوم". pic.twitter.com/bpJT3pyRvu
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) February 22, 2023
No Israeli troops were hurt in Wednesday’s raid, which came after a similar daytime operation in Jenin last month when ten Palestinians, including an elderly woman, were killed amid fierce clashes between Israeli troops and gunmen.
That raid was met with international expressions of concern and Palestinian calls for outside intervention. A day later, seven people were shot dead in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood in the deadliest Palestinian terror attack since 2008.
For the past year, the IDF has been conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of Palestinian terror attacks that killed 32 people in 2022, and another 11 since the beginning of the year.
The IDF’s year-long operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. 171 Palestinians were killed in 2022, and another 60 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.