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IDF chief hails West Bank arrest campaign, says many Hamas terror attacks foiled

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi (center)  at the scene of shooting attack in Tapuah Junction, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, on May 3, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi (center) at the scene of shooting attack in Tapuah Junction, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, on May 3, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi hails the military for thwarting “significant terror attacks” that could have been conducted within Israeli territory, following overnight raids targeting a Hamas cell throughout the West Bank.

“This is a significant achievement, a night of a series of preemptive raids of the utmost import that prevented — from our understanding — significant terror attacks. Such attacks could have been carried out in Jerusalem, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Afula or anywhere else,” he says, speaking from the Israel Defense Forces’ Menashe Regional Brigade headquarters in the northern West Bank.

“This is an operational and intelligence achievement, and this was extraordinary cooperation between the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the [Israel Police’s counter-terrorism] Yamam unit — congratulations to you all,” he says.

According to the IDF, at least seven suspected members of the Hamas cell were arrested and at least five other suspected terrorists were killed after they opened fire at IDF troops during the arrest raids.

During one of these gun battles, two IDF soldiers — a captain and a staff sergeant — were seriously injured. The military believes the soldiers were hit by friendly fire during the exchange.

“There are things to investigate and things to learn, as is the case after every operational activity, but one thing is clear: there was engagement with the enemy and there was an operational outcome, which was the serious foiling of this network, which operated in the Menashe and Binyamin regions,” Kohavi says, referring to areas of the northern and central West Bank, respectively.

However, though the IDF believes it struck a serious blow to the cell, it does not yet know if all of its members have been taken off the streets and what threat it still represents.

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