Israeli security forces carried out large-scale raids on Sunday morning in Jenin, the nearby Palestinian village of Ya’bad and the Balata refugee camp near Nablus.
Ya’bad was the home of Palestinian terrorist Diaa Hamarsheh, who entered Israel illegally from the village and went on a shooting rampage in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, on March 28, killing five people.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that special forces — including troops from the elite Shayetet 13 navy unit — carried out searches for weapons in the area, and arrested eight Palestinians suspected of terror activity.
The military said forces found ammunition and one or more IDF uniforms at the home of one of the suspects, and an explosive device “to be used to carry out an attack” was seized at another home.
During the raid, Palestinians clashed with troops, including opening fire and hurling explosive devices, according to the IDF. No Israeli soldiers were hurt.
The military said troops also operated in Jenin and Tulkarem overnight, arresting several others suspected of terror activity. In Tulkarem, Israeli forces returned fire after Palestinian gunmen shot at soldiers from a vehicle, the IDF said. No troops were hurt in that incident either.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said 11 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli soldiers across the West Bank. Four of those were wounded by live bullets — one in the Jenin area, two in Jericho, and one in Tulkarem. Most of the other wounded were slightly hurt by shrapnel or choked on tear gas.
In total, 20 suspects were arrested overnight, according to the IDF.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett offered a summary of the operations undertaken in the West Bank in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak.
“At the same time, we are also operating in other enemy arenas, near and far, night and day, to strike at the roots of terrorism,” Bennett said. “We will get to wherever is needed, at any time.”
Bennett repeated that he has told the security forces that there are no restrictions on their operations.
“We will get to anyone who has had a direct or indirect connection to the attacks,” Bennett said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian rioters entered Joseph’s Tomb near the city of Nablus and vandalized and set fire to the shrine overnight.
Footage showed dozens of Palestinians entering the site and smashing objects inside. Scorch marks could also be seen in photos from the scene. The tomb is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and has often been a flashpoint for violence.
Palestinians broke into Joseph’s Tomb, a place holy for Jews, outside of Nablus and vandalized it pic.twitter.com/ck9mFnzLyT
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) April 10, 2022
— Newpress | نيو برس (@NewpressPs) April 9, 2022
“The vandalism of Joseph’s Tomb is a grave event and a serious violation of freedom of worship in one of the holiest places for every Jew. It violates the feelings of the entire Jewish nation, especially when it occurs during the Muslim holy month,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, vowing to have the site restored and prevent such incidents in the future.
“This morning, I delivered a strong message to the Palestinian Authority, demanding the immediate reinforcement of their officials on-site, and decisive action against rioters and terrorists that harm stability and security in holy places,” he added.
Separately overnight, the IDF said it foiled a “terror cell” that attempted to enter Israel with a submachine gun. According to the military, troops chased a suspicious vehicle in the northern West Bank along the security barrier, before someone in the car threw out a bag containing the gun and ammunition, and fled the scene. Police officials described the incident as a weapons-smuggling attempt and later said one suspect, an 18-year-old Israeli from Umm al-Fahm, was arrested.
אתמול בשעות הערב, כוח צה"ל זיהה רכב נוסע במרחב התפר שבגזרת החטיבה המרחבית מנשה, ממנו הושלך תיק. בתוך התיק נמצא נשק מסוג קרלו, אשר הועבר להמשך טיפול כוחות הביטחון pic.twitter.com/aeHDabs9te
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) April 10, 2022
Sunday’s operations came a day after Israeli forces raided the Jenin home of the terrorist who carried out the deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv on Thursday night, killing three people. According to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, one Palestinian was killed and at least 13 others were wounded in the clashes.
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.
Saturday’s raid came hours after military 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.
Other attacks in recent weeks in Hadera and Beersheba, by Arab Israelis thought to have been inspired by the Islamic State, left six dead.
The escalation has come ahead of and during 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.