ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Three Palestinians hurt in clash with IDF soldiers during Jenin arrest raid

Troops also come under fire during operation near Jericho; 11 terror suspects detained by forces across West Bank

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

A convoy of IDF vehicles on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin, May 16, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)
A convoy of IDF vehicles on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin, May 16, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Israeli forces exchanged fire with armed Palestinians in the West Bank on Tuesday morning, the military and Palestinian media said, as tensions remained high days after Israel agreed to a ceasefire with the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad following several days of violence.

Palestinian media reports said undercover Israeli troops entered the northern West Bank city of Jenin and clashed with locals after being discovered. Shortly after, the military sent in reinforcements, the reports said.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said three were wounded during the clashes.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops had entered the village of Wadi Burqin on the outskirts of Jenin to arrest a wanted Palestinian suspected of shooting at soldiers.

As the suspect was being arrested, “there was an exchange of fire, during which the troops shot at armed men who shot at them,” the IDF said, adding that several gunmen were hit.

“As the troops left the village, armed men shot at a military vehicle and threw an explosive device,” the IDF said.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group said its members opened fire on Israeli troops in Jenin. Gunfire could be heard across the city in published on social media.

Before dawn, Israeli troops also clashed with Palestinian gunmen in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp, near Jericho in the Jordan Valley, after they surrounded a house and demanded that a number of suspects exit and turn themselves in, Palestinian media reports said.

The IDF said troops had detained two suspects during the raid in Aqabat Jabr.

“During the activity, there were exchanges of fire in the area, and a riot developed,” the IDF said, adding that troops used crowd dispersal means against Palestinian rioters.

In a separate raid in the central West Bank town of Turmus Aya, forces seized a makeshift submachine gun, the IDF. Arrest operations also took place in the Qaddura refugee camp, Dheisheh refugee camp, and in ad-Doha near Bethlehem.

In all, 11 wanted Palestinians were detained during overnight and morning raids across the West Bank, the IDF. They were handed over to the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.

No soldiers were hurt during the raids.

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early May 16, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The clashes came as tensions remained high between Israel and the Palestinians.

Last week, Israel and Islamic Jihad engaged in five days of fighting that saw the IDF kill much of the terror group’s leadership in a series of precision airstrikes, while Islamic Jihad fired some 1,468 rockets into Israeli territory.

The IDF said it killed a total of 21 terror operatives during the fighting and the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reported 33 deaths. The military said at least four civilians were likely killed by failed Gazan rockets, and a number of civilians were killed during the initial strikes of the operation early Tuesday morning, targeting senior Islamic Jihad members.

The terror group’s rocket strikes in Israel killed an elderly woman and a Palestinian laborer from Gaza, and injured several other people.

Israel and Islamic Jihad agreed to an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire that ended the fighting on Saturday night.

Rockets are fired from Gaza City toward Israel on May 13, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Later this week a controversial nationalist parade will take place in Jerusalem, including a provocative procession through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. The so-called flag march, involving mostly right-wing youths under heavy police protection, tends to stoke tensions annually between Israel and the Palestinians.

In 2021, the Jerusalem march served as a pretext for the Hamas terror group to launch an 11-day conflict, dubbed by Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who has a history of ties to nationalist far-right groups, is expected to attend this year’s rally on Thursday.

The IDF has continued to operate in the West Bank as part of a long crackdown on terror groups following a wave of deadly attacks last year.

Early Monday, a Palestinian gunman was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes in the Askar refugee camp in the northern West Bank. The Israeli troops were in the area to prepare to demolish the home of the son of a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a deadly shooting attack earlier this year, killing two Israeli brothers. The shooter’s sons were charged with murder for helping to plan the attack.

Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 19 people and left several more seriously hurt. At least 108 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that span, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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