IDF drone hits cell planting roadside bomb in West Bank, killing 4 terror operatives

Source says strike was some 100 meters from where soldier was killed Monday by an IED; separately, 4 gunmen shot by troops during manhunt after civilian hurt by gunfire near Nablus

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

Illustrative: Armored IDF vehicles move through the Nur Shams camp, east of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, during a raid on July 1, 2024. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)
Illustrative: Armored IDF vehicles move through the Nur Shams camp, east of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, during a raid on July 1, 2024. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)

Four Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives were killed in an Israeli drone strike late Tuesday in the West Bank’s Nur Shams camp, close to Tulkarem, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the terror operatives were planting an explosive device when they were struck.

A military source said the IDF was tracking the cell, and ambushed them as the operatives began to plant a roadside bomb.

The location of the strike was about 100 meters from where an Israeli soldier was killed by a roadside bomb on Monday morning, according to the source.

The four fatalities were identified by a local wing of Islamic Jihad — known as the Tulkarem Battalion — as Yazid Saad al-Shafi, Nimr Anwar Hamarsheh, Mohamed Yasser Shehadeh and Mohamed Hassan Ghannam.

Photos shared online showed two of them holding rifles and a third in a tactical vest. Islamic Jihad said all four were “fighters” in the Tulkarem Battalion.

Armed groups in the West Bank frequently plant improvised explosive devices under roads to attack Israeli forces carrying out arrest raids. The military regularly rips up roads with armored bulldozers as a precautionary measure before entering with lighter-armed vehicles.

In Monday’s incident, which came days after a similar attack near Jenin in which a soldier was killed and 16 others were hurt, the army did not rip up the road where the APC was waiting.

Earlier Tuesday, an Israeli civilian at the Mitzpe Yosef outpost near the settlement of Har Bracha was slightly wounded by gunfire that came from deep within Nablus, according to the IDF and medics.

Following the attack, the IDF launched a manhunt for suspects in the Nablus area, during which it exchanged fire with several gunmen. A military source said at least four armed Palestinians were shot.

The official Palestinian Wafa news outlet reported that one person was shot in the foot during IDF operations in Nablus. It added that soldiers set up checkpoints around the city.

IDF troops search the Nablus area in the northern West Bank following a shooting attack that left one Israeli wounded, July 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Tensions have been high in the West Bank amid the war in the Gaza Strip, which began on October 7 when thousands of Hamas terrorists attacked southern Israel under a barrage of rockets fired at population centers all over the country. They brutally killed some 1,200 people, amid instances of torture and rape, and seized 251 hostages.

Since October 7, troops have arrested some 4,200 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,750 affiliated with Hamas.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, some 560 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time. The IDF says the vast majority of them were gunmen killed during raids or terrorists carrying out attacks.

During the same period, 21 Israelis, including security personnel, have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank. Another five members of the security forces were killed in clashes with terror operatives in the West Bank, including in Monday’s incident.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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