Palestinian killed, 14 arrested in overnight West Bank raids; Nablus closure lifted

IDF says the man, a relative of Wednesday’s car-ramming attacker, was hurling firebombs at troops in Bayt Duqu before being shot; major gains seen against Lion’s Den terror group

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

Troops carry out overnight raids in the West Bank, November 3, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops carry out overnight raids in the West Bank, November 3, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Palestinian man allegedly hurling Molotov cocktails was shot dead by Israeli troops in the predawn hours of Thursday, as the military conducted extensive arrest raids across the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said Daoud Mahmoud Khalil Rayan, 42, was shot dead in clashes as Israeli troops operated in the town of Bayt Duqu, the hometown of a Palestinian attacker who rammed an Israeli soldier at a nearby checkpoint a day earlier.

The car-rammer, Habas Rayan, 54, was killed by the officer he seriously injured in the attack. The man killed early Thursday in Bayt Duqu was a relative of the checkpoint attacker, according to Palestinian media reports.

The IDF said that during an operation at the ramming attacker’s home in Bayt Duqu, riots broke out. Rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at troops, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire.

“[Troops] shot at a Molotov cocktail thrower who endangered the force,” the military said, referring to the slain man.

The 14 wanted Palestinians arrested in other areas of the West Bank were taken by the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.

The IDF added that two handguns were seized during raids in the town of al-Azariya and nearby ‘Ayda Refugee Camp. Ammunition was also seized by troops during a raid in Zeita.

The military said no troops were hurt during the overnight raids.

Separately, the IDF announced it had lifted a blockade on the northern West Bank city of Nablus following gains against a local terror group.

The tight military cordon was first imposed on Nablus on October 12, but partially lifted last week.

“In accordance with a routine situational assessment… it has been decided that the general closure that was imposed on the entrances and exits to Nablus will be lifted,” the military said early Thursday.

Israeli soldiers stand guard near the West Bank village of Huwara, near Nablus, October 13, 2022. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

The decision to first ease the blockade on the city came after Israel appeared to make major gains against the Lions Den terror group.

The ad hoc group, which had formed less than two months earlier, had claimed responsibility for near-nightly attacks on soldiers and settlements, including a shooting on October 11 that left one soldier dead.

Last month, Israeli troops raided a house used by Lion’s Den in Nablus’s old city, killing the apparent leader of the group and four other gunmen, and destroyed a bomb factory. That came a day after another senior member was killed in a bombing attributed to Israel.

At least a dozen members of Lion’s Den have also turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority security services, including some prominent members, reportedly as part of a deal granting them protection from the Israeli crackdown. which has also netted a number of arrests in recent weeks.

A gunman wearing a Lion’s Den headband attends the funeral of Tamer al-Kilani, a top fighter in the group, who the group said was killed by an explosive device planted in a motorcycle, during his funeral in the West Bank city of Nablus, October 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen — mostly Lion’s Den members — have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.

But the number of shootings had dropped in recent weeks, amid the IDF’s offensive actions against the terror group.

An anti-terror offensive launched earlier this year and focused on the northern West Bank has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids.

It has also left over 125 Palestinians dead, many of them — but not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

The IDF’s anti-terror offensive in the West Bank was launched following a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people earlier this year.

An Israeli man was killed in an attack in Hebron on Saturday, another woman was killed in a suspected attack in September, and four soldiers have been killed in the West Bank in attacks and during the arrest operations.

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