8 Palestinians hurt in IDF raid near Jericho; bus attacker nabbed after 9 months

Gunfire battles in refugee camp close to West Bank city; Palestinian health officials say one seriously injured; no soldiers hurt

IDF troops operate in the West Bank, May 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the West Bank, May 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

At least eight Palestinians were wounded during an Israeli military raid in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near the West Bank city of Jericho late Wednesday, Palestinian health officials said.

Palestinian media reports said dozens of military vehicles entered the area and cordoned off the camp to begin raiding homes and searching for suspects.

The Israel Defense Forces in a statement said troops arrested two wanted Palestinians, suspected of involvement in terror activities and arms sales. Palestinian media said at least 14 were detained.

In one such arrest sweep, footage on social media showed a number of Palestinians walking from a compound toward a military vehicle with their arms raised.

A number of gunfire exchanges were also heard. The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reported eight wounded, including one who sustained a serious injury.

The IDF said troops came under gunfire during the raid, and other Palestinian suspects hurled stones and Molotov cocktails. “IDF forces responded with live fire and riot dispersal means at the suspects,” the military said.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian teenager affiliated with the Hamas terror group was killed during an Israeli military raid in the camp.

The IDF said at the time that troops had entered the refugee camp to arrest two wanted Palestinians. The military operation came amid a rise in intelligence alerts of potential terror attacks by Palestinians in the Jericho area.

The IDF had imposed heavy restrictions on movement in and out of the West Bank city amid those concerns as several Palestinians set out from Jericho and the surrounding area to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces.

Last Monday, military prosecutors filed indictments against two Palestinian men accused of carrying out a terror shooting attack near Jericho this year, killing dual American-Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles. The two suspects, residents of the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, were detained by troops during a raid on March 1, just days after the deadly highway attack on February 27.

The Israeli military also raided the camp last week, detaining two suspects, days after agreed to a ceasefire with the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad following almost a week of violence.

Jericho and the adjacent Aqabat Jabr refugee camp are part of Area A of the West Bank — officially under complete Palestinian Authority control, though the Israeli military conducts activities there.

Recent months have seen deadly clashes in Aqabat Jabr. Among the casualties were a 20-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead after fleeing from Israeli troops on April 24, and a 15-year-old Palestinian who allegedly hurled Molotov cocktails at IDF forces.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the Israeli military conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

In a separate raid early Thursday, Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian man accused of carrying out a shooting attack against a bus of soldiers in the Jordan Valley in September 2022.

Maher Turkman, along with his son and nephew, opened fire at the bus from a passing vehicle, seriously injuring a soldier and the civilian driver, as well as lightly wounding five other soldiers.

The trio attempted to set fire to the bus as well, which resulted in their car catching fire. The two younger men jumped out of the burning car and were promptly arrested by troops. The son, Muhammad Turkman, later died of his wounds.

The elder suspect managed to flee the scene after jumping out of the car some 200 meters after the other two did and without troops immediately noticing. He remained on the lam for nearly nine months until his arrest early Thursday.

The IDF, Border Police, and Shin Bet security agency said in a joint statement that Turkman was detained in the town of Yamun, close to Jenin in the northern West Bank.

Israeli soldiers inspect the site of a shooting attack on a bus transporting soldiers in the Jordan Valley, on September 4, 2022. (Flash90)

Another five Palestinians were detained during separate overnight raids in other areas of the West Bank, the IDF said.

The military said no soldiers were hurt during the operations.

On Monday, at least three Palestinians were reported killed by Israeli fire during an overnight raid in Balata, a large West Bank refugee camp directly east of Nablus., Palestinian health authorities said early Monday.

The IDF said it had carried out that operation to arrest terror suspects, with three taken into custody.

Nablus and nearby Jenin have been at the center of an ongoing IDF campaign to root out terror, increasing already-high tensions in the area. The offensive was launched following a spate of attacks in late 2021 and 2022.

Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 19 people and left several more seriously hurt.

At least 111 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that span, including the three reported slain Monday. Most of them were killed while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians or were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

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