Lion’s Den member nabbed by troops in Nablus; 15 more suspects arrested in West Bank

Wasim Estitiyeh wanted for recent shooting attacks in northern West Bank; Palestinian gunmen attempt to target troops during operation

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

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early January 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early January 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops on Tuesday morning detained a member of the Lion’s Den terror group in the West Bank city of Nablus as local gunmen attempted to target the forces, the military said.

The arrest came amid a months-long Israeli anti-terror effort, mostly in the northern West Bank, following a series of terror attacks that killed 31 people in 2022.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops entered Nablus’s Rafidiya neighborhood to arrest Wasim Zaher Estitiyeh, 26, a member of the armed group based in the northern West Bank city who was responsible for recent shooting attacks in the area.

Palestinian media reports said gunmen opened fire at the Israeli troops operating in the city. The IDF said “gunfire was heard in the area” during the operation, but troops did not directly come under attack.

The IDF said another 15 Palestinians were arrested elsewhere across the West Bank, with some violent incidents.

In the West Bank town of Yabed, an explosive device was hurled at troops and gunfire was heard in the area; and in Anata, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, troops used riot dispersal means against Palestinians hurling Molotov cocktails, the military said.

The IDF said troops also seized two hunting rifles and other military equipment during a raid in Beit Ummar.

The 16 Palestinians who were wanted over suspected terror activities were taken to be questioned by the Shin Bet security agency.

No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the overnight raids, the army said.

The IDF’s operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. It also left over 170 Palestinians dead in 2022, and another four since the beginning of the year, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians.

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