ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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2 Islamic Jihad gunmen killed in attempted West Bank shooting attack on IDF troops

Local wing of terror group tries to target Israeli forces near Jaba’, south of Jenin; another Palestinian wounded in clash 2 weeks ago dies

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

Onlookers surround a bullet-riddled car in which two Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen were killed by Israeli troops in Jaba' near the West Bank city of Jenin, on January 14, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
Onlookers surround a bullet-riddled car in which two Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen were killed by Israeli troops in Jaba' near the West Bank city of Jenin, on January 14, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

Two members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were killed after they opened fire at Israeli forces in the northern West Bank on Saturday morning, the military and the terror group said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, troops operating near the village of Jaba’, south of Jenin, came under fire from a passing vehicle. The IDF said troops returned fire at the car and identified several suspects being hit.

In a statement, the PIJ said members of a local wing based in Jaba’ had opened fire at the Israeli forces in the area.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said two men were killed in the incident, Izz a-Din Basem Hamamra, 24, and Amjad Adnan Khaliliya, 23.

They were both identified as members of the PIJ in a later statement by the terror group.

Palestinian media outlets published footage of the car apparently involved in the attempted attack. The windows could be seen shattered and the seats were soaked in blood.

The IDF said troops searching the area found an M16 rifle used by one of the gunmen.

No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the attack, the IDF added.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

An M16 assault rifle found near the West Bank village of Jaba’ following a shooting attack against Israeli troops, January 14, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Separately early Saturday, a Palestinian man died two weeks after he was critically wounded by gunfire during clashes as troops worked to demolish the homes of two gunmen who killed a military officer last year.

Yazan al-Jaabari, 19, died from wounds he sustained on January 2, the Ibn Sina hospital in the southern town of Jenin said in a statement. The PA Health Ministry also confirmed his death.

Two Palestinian gunmen were also killed during that firefight.

The IDF said at the time that during the operation in Kafr Dan, north of Jenin, troops came under “massive gunfire” by Palestinian gunmen.

“Troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired at a number of armed men who fired at them,” the IDF said, adding that “suspects were hit.”

The village is the hometown of two Palestinian gunmen who carried out a deadly attack along the West Bank security barrier on September 14, killing Maj. Bar Falah, 30, the deputy commander of the elite Nahal reconnaissance unit.

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. (Courtesy: Family)

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

A military investigation into the death of Falah pointed to “errors” made by troops, who detected the suspects near a military post and moved in to investigate but failed to realize they were armed and were caught unawares by their initial volley of fire, which hit Falah.

The incidents came during an Israeli anti-terror offensive, mostly focused on the northern West Bank, to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 31 people in 2022.

The IDF’s operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. It also left more than 170 Palestinians dead in 2022, and another 12 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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