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Analysis

PA forces raid Jenin refugee camp, arrest Islamic Jihad members

Abbas’s security forces carry out one of their biggest operations in recent years, highly unusual in terms of scale and area

Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

In an overnight operation Friday-Saturday, Palestinian Authority security forces raided the refugee camp in Jenin in the West Bank, arresting several “wanted subjects,” including members of Islamic Jihad, Israel Radio reported.

According to reports, some 200 forces descended on the camp and blocked the exits, searching homes, including that of Bassem Al-Saadi, the head of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. The raid was reported to be one of the Palestinian Authority’s biggest security operations in recent years, and highly unusual in terms of scale and area of operation.

Jenin Governor Talal Dweikat said elite Palestinian security forces came under fire after entering Jenin and “unidentified gunmen hurled an improvised explosive device” at the troops, Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

Dweikat said “things were pacified” and several Palestinians were arrested. There was no immediate indication of whether there were casualties in the incident.

According to Dweikat, the operation aimed “to serve Palestinian citizens and to protect their interests” by cracking down on unrest resulting from the death of a Palestinian last month.

The Palestinian Authority increased its police presence in Jenin recently following disturbances in the camp and clashes between residents and Palestinian police. Last month, IDF forces killed Islamic Jihad member Islam al-Tubasi, 19, and injured several in clashes in Jenin that ensued after they tried to arrest him.

The soldiers encountered “a violent riot” as “Palestinians hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and improvised grenades at security forces who responded with riot dispersal means… Feeling an imminent threat to their lives, the soldiers returned fire toward the lower extremities of main instigators,” the IDF said at the time.

The camp is a known site of tension between Palestinian Authority forces and armed members of the various Palestinian groups.

It was also the headquarters of much of the suicide bombing “infrastructure” at the height of the second intifada more than a decade ago, and the scene of bloody fighting between Palestinian terror groups and the IDF when Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield to tackle that infrastructure in April 2002.

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