In daytime raid, police take out West Bank terror cell planning attacks on Israelis

Security forces say 4 operatives directed and funded by Hamas killed in Tulkarem by elite counterterrorism unit

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

Two assault rifles seized by Israeli police from Palestinian gunmen who were killed during an operation in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, November 6, 2023. (Israel Police)
Two assault rifles seized by Israeli police from Palestinian gunmen who were killed during an operation in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, November 6, 2023. (Israel Police)

Israeli forces carried out a daytime raid Monday in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, killing members of a terror cell that police allege was planning to carry out major attacks on behalf of the Hamas terror group.

In a joint statement with the Shin Bet security agency, police said officers of the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit had killed four members of the cell.

The four were named as Izz a-Din Awad, a Hamas commander, Jihad Maharaj Shehadeh, an Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commander, Muhammad Sabarini, a local operative, and Qassem Rajab, another local operative.

Shehadeh was described by the Shin Bet as a “main terror operative” and leader of the cell, while Awad was designated a senior operative.

Footage from Tulkarem showed the car they were traveling in was riddled with bullet holes.

Police and the Shin Bet said the cell had already carried out dozens of shooting attacks, and operated “under the guidance and funding” of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and abroad, as well as other terror groups.

“In the process, they received hundreds of thousands of shekels to advance terror activity,” the statement said.

According to police and the Shin Bet, the cell was working to arm itself and carry out bombing attacks, and had plans to launch rockets from the West Bank and to recruit additional members for attacks.

Two assault rifles were seized from the gunmen during the operation on Monday, police said.

The operation in Tulkarem came amid soaring tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as Israel fights a fierce war against the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip following its October 7 massacres in southern Israel. On Monday morning, a Border Police officer was killed and another wounded in a terrorist stabbing outside Jerusalem’s Old City.

There have been frequent clashes in the West Bank since the war in the Gaza Strip began. Troops have arrested more than 1,350 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, including some 850 affiliated with Hamas, according to the IDF.

According to data from the Palestinian Authority health ministry, at least 155 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in some cases settlers, since October 7.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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