7 Israelis hurt in hours-long clashes with terrorist in West Bank; airstrike kills him

Palestinian sniper opened fire at minibus near settlement of Dolev in the early morning hours; amid manhunt, he engaged in gunbattle with troops before being killed

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

IDF troops at the scene of a shooting attack near the settlement of Dolev, March 22, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops at the scene of a shooting attack near the settlement of Dolev, March 22, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at an Israeli vehicle in the West Bank early Friday morning, leading to an hours-long exchange of fire that ultimately resulted in the gunman being killed in a helicopter strike, according to the military.

At least seven people were wounded in the clashes with the gunman, one of them critically, media reports and hospital officials said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the incident began at around 5 a.m., with the terrorist opening fire at a minibus near the settlement of Dolev, causing no injuries.

Troops began a pursuit after the gunman, during which they came under fire several times throughout the morning.

According to the IDF’s initial probe of the attack, the terrorist was using a sniper rifle, and he had opened fire from behind makeshift cover in a forested area near Dolev. The gunman moved between several positions that he had set up in the area, which he reached overnight, the probe found.

The IDF said it scrambled an attack helicopter and drones in its search for the terrorist.

The Israeli Air Force helicopter carried out gunfire in the area where the terrorist was believed to be, in an attempt to flush him out. At the same time, the gunman fired several more shots toward the Israeli forces, according to the probe.

The IDF’s elite Duvdevan unit was then dispatched to the scene in an attempt to locate the terrorist, during which the commandos also engaged in a gun battle with him.

Around five hours after the initial attack, with the terrorist being finally located, the IAF helicopter carried out a strike against him, the IDF said. The terrorist was killed in the strike.

Hebrew-language media said seven people were hurt in the incident, including one in critical condition and two in serious condition.

Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah said three people were admitted to the medical center after sustaining injuries in clashes with a Palestinian gunman. One was listed as being in serious condition, the hospital said. The other two were moderately and lightly hurt, it added.

It was not immediately clear where the other wounded were being treated or what their condition was.

Head of the IDF’s West Bank division, Brig. Gen. Yaki Dolf, is seen at the scene of a shooting attack near the settlement of Dolev, March 22, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Security forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been on high alert since the start of Ramadan last week. Tensions were already high between Israelis and Palestinians due to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, triggered by the October 7 massacre, which saw Hamas terrorists murder about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnap 253.

Since October 7, the IDF has said troops have arrested some 3,500 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,500 affiliated with Hamas.

Palestinians say over 400 people have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since hostilities broke out, most while carrying out attacks or during clashes with IDF troops during nightly raids that have largely concentrated on a handful of areas in the northern West Bank. However, killings of innocent bystanders have also been alleged.

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