Islamic Jihad calls for Palestinians to 'defend Jenin'

Police commando killed during fierce gunfights with Palestinians in Jenin area

Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, 47, dies of wounds after being airlifted to hospital; video shows security forces surrounding home of Islamic Jihad suspect, firing missile toward building

Police commando Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, 47, who was killed in an operation in Jenin on May 13, 2022. (Police)
Police commando Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, 47, who was killed in an operation in Jenin on May 13, 2022. (Police)

A police commando who was seriously wounded during fierce exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the northern West Bank on Friday morning has died of his wounds, police said

The officer was named as 47-year-old Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, a 23-year veteran of the elite Yamam counterterror unit.

Raz “fell this morning during a fight with armed terrorists who opened fire on our forces during an operation in the village of Burqin near Jenin. During the battle he was wounded and evacuated by helicopter to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he was declared dead,” police said.

Raz, a founder and resident of the settlement Kida in the West Bank, leaves behind a wife and six children. Police hailed him as an experienced fighter who had “taken part in hundreds of operations to prevent terror, risked himself and saved lives.”

He was a brave, professional and humble fighter,” the statement said.

Raz was hit as forces were wrapping up an operation that included raids on terror suspects’ homes. A senior officer in the military’s Central Command said the amount of gunfire directed at troops on Friday was “indescribable.”

The Israel Defense Forces earlier acknowledged that forces from the military and Shin Bet as well as Yamam were operating in Burqin in order to arrest a number of suspects.

A masked Palestinian gunman fires an automatic weapon during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin on May 13, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

“During the operation, Israeli forces fired at armed terrorists who opened heavy fire and threw explosives toward them… As part of the operation, forces used various special measures to arrest a suspect who barricaded himself inside his home and eventually surrendered together with his brother,” a joint statement issued by police and the IDF read.

According to the IDF, five suspects were arrested in the West Bank overnight and this morning, and illegal weapons were seized in the city of Hebron.

Military officials said the suspects who were arrested in the Jenin area were responsible for shooting attacks at troops in recent weeks.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reported 13 hurt, including one critically, in the Jenin fighting.

Footage on social media showed masked Palestinians firing rifles in the direction of Israeli soldiers, as heavy gunfire could be heard.

Palestinian reports said Israeli forces surrounded the home of a suspect and called on everyone inside to surrender. The Islamic Jihad terror group identified the suspect, Mohammad al-Dab’i, as a member of its military wing.

Video showed an Israeli soldier firing a shoulder-launched missile at the home, with smoke then seen rising from the building.

A separate clip showed the house on fire. It was unclear if anyone was inside.

The suspect’s father later told Palestine TV that his son was arrested after “hours of siege.”

Clashes were also reported in the nearby Jenin refugee camp.

Amid the gunbattles, Islamic Jihad spokesperson Tariq Izz al-Din urged all Palestinians and armed groups to “defend the Jenin refugee camp.”

One of the Palestinian wounded was named as Daoud Zubaidi. His brother, Zakaria Zubeidi, is a convicted terror leader who last year escaped from Gilboa Prison for a week before being recaptured. Daoud Zubaidi was later taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment, according to the Ynet news site. He was listed in serious condition.

Zakaria Zubeidi, then the local commander of Fatah’s terrorist wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, sits in a car decorated with a poster of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, December 2, 2004. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

Several Palestinian terrorists behind recent deadly attacks that left 19 dead hailed from Jenin and its environs. Israeli forces have been carrying out raids in the area, including an operation early Wednesday in which a prominent Al Jazeera journalist was shot dead during clashes between armed Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, further ratcheting up tensions.

It is not yet clear who shot Shireen Abu Akleh. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of “executing” her. Israeli officials have declared that it is too soon to determine who fired the bullet that killed her. Israel is investigating and asked the PA to join the probe, which it has refused to do. Defense Minister Benny Gantz was quoted telling foreign reporters on Wednesday night that it could have been “the Palestinians who shot her,” or fire from “our side.”

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