Hamas terrorists shoot at Israeli town from West Bank, spurring demand for crackdown

Terror group posts video on social media showing three men firing at Israeli town of Bat Hefer from the West Bank; Smotrich says Israel must fight ‘like in Gaza’

Footage posted on social media shows three Hamas terrorists shooting at the Israeli town of Bat Hefer from the Tulkarem area in the West Bank, May 29, 2024. (Social media/X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Hamas operatives fired shots Wednesday morning from the Tulkarem area in the West Bank at the nearby Israeli village of Bat Hefer, the military and the terror group said.

No one was hurt, but the bullets caused some damage, the Israel Defense Forces said, adding that “forces are working to locate the terrorists.”

Hamas posted videos on social media of its operatives opening fire.

Hebrew media reports said it was the third time in less than two weeks that shots had been fired at Bat Hefer, a town of about 5,000 people that sits just west of the so-called Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank.

New Hope party chief Gideon Sa’ar said that the repeat gunfire was “intolerable and necessitates immediate and effective treatment,” urging the “failed” war cabinet to “wake up.”

Galit Shaul, head of the Emek Hefer Regional Council, which includes Bat Hefer, sent a letter to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant asking for an emergency meeting on the matter.

The shooting on Wednesday was the latest chapter in what residents say has been an ongoing threat, particularly since October 7, when Hamas forces crossed into southern Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people, taking 252 hostage, and initiating the ongoing war in the Strip.

In December, residents of Bat Hefer reported hearing digging sounds from beneath the ground, and an investigation was opened into potential terror tunnels into Israel from the West Bank.

In March, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that the IDF had created a team to deal with the issue.

There have also been similar shooting incidents at Kibbutz Meirav, a religious community of less than a thousand, from the West Bank city of Jenin.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is also a minister in the Defense Ministry, compared the situation along the Green Line to the prewar status of the Gaza border area.

“Against terrorists in Judea and Samaria, we have to fight like in Gaza,” he posted to X on Wednesday, referring to the West Bank by its biblical name. “We must not allow them to do in the Sharon valley [in central Israel] what they did on October 7.”

“Terror needs to be uprooted anywhere, even if it means Tulkarem will look like Gaza looks today,” he wrote.

The far-right minister, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, said he has spoken with Galit Shaul and agreed to hold a meeting in the coming days along with other officials “to meet the immediate needs as a result of the worsening of the threat to the residents.”

He added that the phenomenon was further proof that a future Palestinian state would pose “an existential threat to the State of Israel.”

The shooting also came two days after it was announced that 19 Palestinians had been caught after illegally crossing into Israel from the West Bank, out of 30 believed to have crossed in total.

Security footage shared on social media showed men climbing over the security barrier separating Israel and the West Bank.

The detained Palestinians were not armed, but that was little comfort for residents of the area, who protested at the entrance to Bat Hefer on Monday following news of the arrests.

“We have to change the perception immediately,” said Yonatan Achiyah, from a forum of civil defense squads, on Wednesday, pointing to “the loss of deterrence in the north and the south” as an influence on terrorists in the West Bank.

“When they see that, they dare to shoot at us, and to endanger these communities almost every day,” he continued.

“We have to treat each person who illegally crosses the border as a potential terrorist, and treat the defense of communities like these as though we were talking about the north or the Gaza border area.”

Most Popular
read more: