The alleged terrorist behind a deadly shooting attack in the northern West Bank town of Huwara was one of six Palestinians killed as Israeli troops raided Jenin and exchanged fire with gunmen Tuesday.
Palestinian officials said Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, 49, was killed in the operation. The Shin Bet security agency said Kharousha, a Hamas member from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, was the terrorist who opened fire on an Israeli car driving through Huwara on February 26, killing Israeli brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the troops who “eliminated the despicable terrorist who murdered the two brothers in cold blood.” He said this was proof that “whoever harms us, on his own head be it.”
Palestinian health officials said at least six people were killed in the fighting, and another 12 were injured, three seriously.
Others killed were named as Muhammad Wael Ghazawi, 26, Tariq Ziad Mustafa Natour, 27, Ziad Amin Zaraini, 29, Mutasim Nasser Sabbagh, 22, and Muhammad Ahmad Salim Khalouf, 22.
Palestinian media identified Khalouf, Ghazawi, and Zaraini as members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terror group loosely affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party.
Sabbagh and Kharousha were named by Hamas as members and “fighters” in the terror group.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a statement said the sixth Palestinian, Natour, was a member.
The IDF said it only fired at gunmen and Palestinians rioting in Jenin amid the operation.
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The IDF and police said forces came under “massive gunfire” during the operation, including a number of Palestinian gunmen who allegedly fired at forces from an ambulance.
A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said its members opened fire and also hurled explosives at the Israeli force in Jenin.
Police said three officers of the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit were wounded during the raid. They were taken to the Rambam hospital in Haifa, which said one was listed in moderate condition, while the other two were slightly hurt.
Troops also raided Nablus, arresting the two sons of the Huwara killer, Khaled and Muhammed Kharousha, the IDF said.
According to the Shin Bet, the pair were suspected of planning and carrying out the February 26 attack in Huwara.
IDF soldiers and Yamam officers took part in the operation, entering Jenin and laying siege to a house where suspects had apparently holed up.
The IDF said forces fired shoulder-mounted missiles at a house, in an attempt to force those inside to exit.
Two small military drones were downed by Palestinian gunmen during the operation in Jenin. The IDF said the circumstances were under investigation.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the raid and called for the US to pressure Israel to halt such operations.
???? متابعة صفا| مقاومون يسقطون طائرة مسيرة تابعة لقوات الاحتلال فوق مخيم pic.twitter.com/zt4xyHoiQC
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تغطية صحفية: لحظة إسقاط طائرة مسيرة تابعة للاحتلال في سماء مخيم جنين. pic.twitter.com/nyqmE1ACaX
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) March 7, 2023
“The Israeli government bears responsibility for this dangerous escalation, which threatens to blow up the situation and destroy all efforts aimed at restoring stability,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, were shot and killed as they drove through the West Bank Palestinian town of Huwara on February 26. Israeli forces have been engaged in a manhunt for the killer ever since.
Following the pair’s death, a group of radical settlers rampaged through Huwara, burning homes and vehicles. A Palestinian man was killed and multiple people were injured in violence that shocked many in Israel and abroad, with some terming the incident a “pogrom.”
There have been several recent raids in northern West Bank cities that have resulted in high Palestinian death tolls, making the last several months among the deadliest the area has seen in decades. While many of those killed have been fighters, civilians have also been caught in the crossfire.
Jenin is widely seen as a hotbed of terrorist activity and has been the focus of a year-long Israeli counter-terror operation.
In January, ten Palestinians were killed, mostly gunmen but including an elderly woman, and several were wounded during fierce clashes between Israeli troops and gunmen in the city. The IDF said troops entered the Jenin refugee camp to foil imminent attack plans by a local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.