IDF kills two senior terror operatives in Jenin during West Bank raid

Palestinians say child and teen also killed in clashes; military says 17 additional Palestinians arrested; tunnel shaft and machine for manufacturing guns found by security forces

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

An armed Palestinian man stands among residents in Jenin as they examine the damage sustained by a house during an IDF raid in the area on November 29, 2023.  (Zain Jaafar/AFP)
An armed Palestinian man stands among residents in Jenin as they examine the damage sustained by a house during an IDF raid in the area on November 29, 2023. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)

Israeli troops killed two senior terror operatives in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp during an operation there on Wednesday, the Border Police, Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet announced in a joint statement.

Muhammad Zubeidi, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in the Jenin camp, and Hussam Hanoun, another local operative, were identified as the two operatives killed in the raid.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, a 15-year-old and 8-year-old were also killed by Israeli fire in the area. Israel has not commented beyond saying its forces exchanged fire with gunmen.

The IDF has said that Zubeidi was the commander of the so-called Jenin Battalion, a local wing of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank city.

In May of this year, he was involved in a terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Hermesh in which an Israeli, Meir Tamari, was killed, the Shin Bet said, adding that Zubeidi had planned the attack and provided the car used by the perpetrators.

Tamari, 32, was shot by Palestinian gunmen on a road outside the Hermesh settlement. He continued driving until he reached the entrance to the town, where he was treated by medics and later taken by helicopter to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries several hours later.

In addition, Zubeidi was involved in another attack in June in which a civilian and four soldiers were wounded, the Shin Bet said.

Zubeidi and Hanoun were killed during the raid when troops surrounded a building in the camp where the operatives were holed up and opened fire. The troops later entered the building and seized two assault rifles from the bodies.

Palestinians look at the aftermath of an Israeli military raid in Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Zubeidi was a relative of convicted Fatah terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi, who in September 2021 escaped from Gilboa Prison along with six other high-security prisoners, leading Israeli security forces on a two-week manhunt before being caught.

Separately on Wednesday, troops arrested 17 wanted Palestinians in the area, seized weapons, and located a tunnel shaft and a lathe for manufacturing guns, the IDF said. Clashes erupted in the area amid the operation, and Palestinian gunmen fired at troops while others hurled explosive devices.

The IDF said the troops returned fire and carried out a drone strike against a group of gunmen in the area. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, a 15-year-old and 8-year-old were killed.

Tensions in the West Bank have been high since October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst through the border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing some 240 hostages.

Israel responded with an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation with the goal of destroying Hamas and ending its 16-year rule over Gaza, and securing the release of the hostages.

Palestinians wave Hamas flags in the West Bank city of Nablus as they celebrate the release of Palestinian security prisoners. as part of a deal between Israel and Hamas for the return of Israeli hostages, November 24, 2023. (AP Photo/ Majdi Mohammed)

Since October 7, Israeli troops have arrested some 2,000 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,100 affiliated with Hamas. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, some 200 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in a few cases settlers.

According to military estimates, the vast majority of the 200 Palestinians killed since October 7 were shot dead during clashes amid arrest raids. Around 60% of them, according to data seen by The Times of Israel, were armed with either a firearm or an explosive device.

The IDF is aware of at least three cases of uninvolved Palestinians being killed by troops in recent weeks, and a handful of cases of settlers killing Palestinians, which are still under investigation.

The IDF has continued to operate throughout the West Bank, even as a Qatar-negotiated ceasefire and hostage deal came into effect in Gaza on Friday, in light of concerns about a possible escalation of violence following the release of Palestinian security prisoners in the exchange for abducted Israeli hostages.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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