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Israel to reopen northern West Bank checkpoints, days after deadly gun battle

Work permits for residents of Kafr Dan, hometown of Palestinian gunmen, remain frozen after shooting that killed senior IDF officer Bar Falah

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

Israeli soldiers block the entrence to the Jalamah checkpoint near the West Bank city of Jenin, September 14, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers block the entrence to the Jalamah checkpoint near the West Bank city of Jenin, September 14, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Israeli authorities were set Sunday to reopen two checkpoints between Israel and the northern West Bank, which were closed last week after two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at troops along the security barrier, killing a senior officer.

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, widely known by its acronym COGAT, announced Saturday that the Jalamah and Salem checkpoints would reopen Sunday, following an assessment held by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Following Wednesday’s deadly shooting, Gantz also ordered to freeze the entry permits to Israel for residents of Kafr Dan, the hometown of the two gunmen, until further notice.

The restrictions on the entry permits were to remain in place, COGAT said Saturday.

Early Wednesday, Ahmed Abed and Abdul Rahman Abed, from the village near Jenin, were killed in a gun battle with Israeli troops who sought to arrest them, after they approached the West Bank security barrier.

Maj. Bar Falah, 30, the deputy commander of the elite Nahal reconnaissance unit, was killed when the gunmen opened fire.

Maj. Bar Falah, 30, the deputy commander of the elite Nahal reconnaissance unit, who was killed in a firefight with two terrorists near the West Bank security fence on September 14, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The military suspected the two Palestinians were planning to ambush troops stationed at a nearby post.

On Thursday, troops mapped out the pair’s homes in Kafr Dan ahead of a potential demolition.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy. The efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment, while human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment.

Ahmed Abed (right) and Abdul Rahman Abed, who opened fire at IDF troops, killing one, and were killed in the subsequent firefight on September 14, 2022. (Composite image: Twitter)

Tensions have spiked in the region in recent weeks as Israeli forces have ratcheted up arrest raids and other counterterror efforts that Palestinians say inflame anger.

Israeli troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in the West Bank. The military launched the operation after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.

Kafr Dan is located close to Jenin, where a number of the attacks earlier in the year originated and where the IDF has concentrated much of its anti-terror campaign.

At least 98 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far this year, according to a tally from the PA health ministry, including 34 in the Jenin area alone.

More than 2,000 suspects have been detained since the beginning of the year, according to the Shin Bet security agency.

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