Israeli security forces on Saturday raided the West Bank home of the terrorist who carried out the deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv on Thursday night.
The Israel Defense Forces said Palestinian gunmen opened fire toward troops operating in the city of Jenin and other nearby villages.
In footage posted online, heavy gunfire was heard in the area. The IDF said there were no Israeli casualties.
According to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, one Palestinian was killed and at least 13 others were wounded in the clashes.
The dead Palestinian was named as Ahmed as-Saadi, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunman from the Jenin refugee camp. His M16 rifle was seized by IDF troops.
After several hours, Israeli troops left the Jenin refugee camp.
Security forces said three people were arrested in the raid, including a gunman who was seriously wounded in a firefight and taken by military helicopter to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.
“The IDF will continue to carry out counterterrorism activities and arrests whenever and wherever its fighters are required to, in order to prevent terrorist attacks and strengthen the security of the residents of the State of Israel,” the military said in a statement at the conclusion of the operation.
A spokesman for the Hamas terror group praised the Palestinian gunmen who opened fire at troops. “We salute the young people of Jenin who are carrying out courageous acts of heroism that define the next stage in the conflict with Israel,” Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.
Barhum called for “the conflict to extend to all West Bank cities and villages.”
Ahmed Al-Saadi had a photo of himself on his magazine today during the gunfire exchange with the #IDF. Photos on social media show he had this previously also, potentially a way of identifying himself and his gun. https://t.co/6lD05WQZQ5 pic.twitter.com/dr1u9NiAmY
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) April 9, 2022
According to reports, the military sought to arrest the father of Ra’ad Hazem, the terrorist who killed three people when he opened fire at a Tel Aviv bar on Thursday evening, but he was not home at the time of the operation.
Hazem’s father, Fathi, is a former security prisoner who previously served as an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s security services in Jenin. He has refused an Israeli request to be questioned.
On Friday, Fathi praised his son’s actions to a crowd gathered in front of the family home. “Your eyes will see the victory soon. You will see the change. You will achieve your freedom… God, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the desecration of the occupiers,” Fathi said, according to footage.
Hazem went on the run after the attack and was found hiding near a mosque in Jaffa after an hourslong manhunt involving hundreds of security officers. While initially raising his hands in surrender, Hazem reportedly then drew a gun and opened fire on the officers, who fired back and killed him.
According to the Palestinian reports, the troops in Jenin on Saturday gathered evidence from the Hazem family home and questioned others relatives at the scene.
The reports said that relatives of Hazem are suspected of assisting him in preparations for the attack as well as helping him carry it out.
The Shin Bet security agency has said Hazem had “no clear organizational affiliation, no security background and no previous arrests.”
In addition to the searches, the Hazem family home was mapped out by troops ahead of a potential demolition.
Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy. The efficacy of the policy is controversial even within the Israeli security services and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment.
According to Palestinian media reports, the terrorist’s family has two houses in the area — one in the Jenin refugee camp and another in the village of Deir Ghazaleh.
The raids came hours after Israel Defense Forces chief Aviv Kohavi said the military will ramp up activities in the northern West Bank, following several deadly terror incidents involving Palestinians from the Jenin region and as officials reportedly believe the Palestinian Authority is losing control of the area.
Kohavi instructed the IDF to expand and increase offensive operations in the West Bank, especially in northern towns from which recent terrorists came.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, the Palestinian Authority is being challenged for control of the area around Jenin by both the Islamic Jihad terror group and members of Fatah, the Palestinian faction ostensibly led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli officials want the PA to crack down on terror in the area, but fear it will not be able to, according to Friday news reports.
Last week, Israeli troops attempted to arrest a team of terrorists on its way to an attack. Three Islamic Jihad members were killed in the ensuing firefight near Jenin and four Israeli soldiers were injured.
On Saturday, the IDF announced that three further troop companies will be sent to reinforce defensive operations in the “seam zone” border area along the Green Line separating Israel and the West Bank.
There are many gaps in the West Bank barrier, and the IDF has dispatched thousands of troops in recent weeks to the seam zone area to prevent Palestinians from crossing into Israel.
Israeli security services say that Hazem crossed into Israel through a gap in the barrier. Officials suspect he was driven from Jenin to the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm through a gap in the fence, and from there took a bus to Tel Aviv to carry out the attack, according to Hebrew media reports.
The suspect who drove Hazem is known to security forces, the Ynet news site said.
Thursday’s shooting killed three and broke a tense calm that had set in since March 28, when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, killing five people.
Other attacks in recent weeks in Hadera and Beersheba, by Arab Israelis thought to have been inspired by the Islamic State, left six others dead.
The escalation has come amid the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — often a period of high tension in Israel and the West Bank. Israel has ramped up security measures in response to the attacks and deployed additional forces to the West Bank, Gaza border and major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.