Forces search settlement of Beitar Illit after suspected IED found on bus

IDF Home Front Command tells residents to remain in homes until further notice as ‘terrorist infiltration’ alert sounds; lifts restrictions hours later

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

Israeli security forces scan the settlement of Beitar Illit, in the West Bank, following a suspected infiltration of a man who placed a makeshift bomb on March 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security forces scan the settlement of Beitar Illit, in the West Bank, following a suspected infiltration of a man who placed a makeshift bomb on March 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli forces on Thursday night searched for a suspected terrorist they believed had infiltrated the settlement of Beitar Illit and planted a makeshift bomb on a bus.

A “terrorist infiltration” alert sounded in the settlement after the suspected improvised explosive device was discovered.

Residents were ordered by the military’s Home Front Command to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows until further notice. The restrictions were lifted at 7 a.m. on Friday.

The Israel Defense Forces said a suspicious bag with the suspected IED and “Police sappers dispatched to the scene neutralized the object.”

Surveillance camera footage from the bus showed a person leaving the vehicle, before smoke was seen rising from one of the seats. Another man was then seen running out of the bus.

The Home Front Command told residents that “an infiltration of terrorists was detected.”

“Residents must continue to stay in buildings until further notice, and keep the doors locked and the windows closed. Being outside is prohibited until further notice. The IDF and the security forces are handling the incident,” the statement said.

The IDF said troops were scanning the area for the suspect who allegedly planted the device.

It was unclear if a suspect was arrested, but the Home Front Command issued a new statement to residents at 7 a.m., saying the movement restrictions had been lifted.

The suspected attack came shortly after a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at people outside a cafe in Tel Aviv, wounding three, including one critically.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up even further in recent weeks amid a cycle of Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

A string of Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 74 Palestinians 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.

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