IDF on alert across West Bank; shots fired at settlement near Nablus for 2nd night

Damage caused to home in Har Bracha after early morning shooting claimed by Palestinian gunmen; West Bank, Gaza crossings for Palestinians to close during Jewish holidays

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

Illustrative -- Israeli security forces in the West Bank on March 10, 2021 (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Illustrative -- Israeli security forces in the West Bank on March 10, 2021 (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Shots were fired early Friday morning toward the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha near Nablus, for the second night in a row, the Israel Defense Forces said, as troops were put on high alert ahead of the upcoming Jewish holidays.

One of the bullets hit a bedroom window, according to the IDF and images from the scene.

An armed Palestinian group calling itself “Lion’s Den,” claimed responsibility for the shooting.

The group — based in Nablus’ old city — was established in recent months by members of various terror groups. Some of its members were apparently previously affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Lion’s Den is tied to Ibrahim Nabulsi, a wanted Palestinian gunman who was killed in an Israeli raid in Nablus last month.

The IDF said it had launched a manhunt for the gunmen.

Damage is seen to a bedroom window in a home in the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha, September 23, 2022, following a shooting attack. (Courtesy)

No soldiers or civilians were hurt in the incident, which came amid an uptick in shooting attacks and rising violence in the West Bank, particularly in its north.

Early Thursday, the same armed group claimed responsibility for the shooting at Har Bracha and a nearby IDF post.

Palestinian gunmen in recent months have targeted numerous military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.

Additionally, eight Israelis were lightly hurt in a suspected terror stabbing attack near the central Israeli city of Modiin on Thursday evening, medics and police said.

Police described the incident as a terror attack. The Shilat Junction is close to the West Bank security barrier.

The IDF was on high alert across the West Bank amid the uptick in attacks, and ahead of the upcoming Jewish holidays.

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, September 19, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

During Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and the first and last days of Sukkot, Israel will close crossings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip for Palestinians.

Such closures are standard practice during festivals and holidays. The military says they are a preventative measure against attacks in periods of increased tension.

Meanwhile, Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said Thursday there was an identifiable rise in the number of alerts on plans to carry out terror attacks and that the force was countering the threat “with large deployments” of officers.

He said that from Saturday night until October 18, police would be at their highest level of readiness.

Police walk through the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City on September 18, 2022. (Israel Police)

In recent months Israeli troops have also repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in Palestinian cities in the West Bank.

The military launched the arrest operations after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.

Many of the IDF’s arrests in recent months have concentrated on Nablus and Jenin, in the northern West Bank, where a number of the terrorists who committed the attacks earlier this year hailed from.

Israeli security officials have warned in recent months that the Palestinian Authority is losing control of the northern West Bank.

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