IDF arrests senior PIJ member in Jenin; Palestinian teen from PIJ killed in the raid

Troops surround home of Bassem Saadi, detain him and son-in-law; Islamic Jihad declares state of alert

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

Palestinian Islamic Jihad's leader in the West Bank, Bassem Saadi (left) and his son-in-law Ashraf al-Jada, in an undated photo. (Social media)
Palestinian Islamic Jihad's leader in the West Bank, Bassem Saadi (left) and his son-in-law Ashraf al-Jada, in an undated photo. (Social media)

A Palestinian teen was killed late Monday night during an Israeli military operation in the northern West Bank city of Jenin to arrest a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official.

Palestinian media reports said Israeli troops surrounded the home of Bassem Saadi, the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in the West Bank, before arresting him and his son-in-law and aide, Ashraf al-Jada.

Some reports said Saadi was also hurt during the incident.

PIJ identified the teenage fatality as Dirar al-Kafrayni, 17, and said he was a member of the group and “our heroic martyr”.

A joint statement by the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police said two Palestinian terror suspects were arrested in Jenin. The Shin Bet security agency confirmed Saadi was the target of the arrest, with his aide also being detained.

In response, the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad announced in a statement that it was declaring a state of “alertness” and raising its fighters’ “readiness” following the arrest of Saadi.

Footage published by Palestinian media showed a convoy of Israeli military vehicles was seen entering the Palestinian city. In other clips, heavy gunfire was heard.

According to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, al-Kafrayni was brought to the Jenin Public Hospital in critical condition, where his death was declared. A second Palestinian was moderately hurt, the ministry said.

A local wing of the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for shooting at Israeli troops operating in the city.

The IDF and Border Police said a handgun, ammunition and cash were seized during the operation. It added that troops returned fire at the gunmen who opened fire, hitting several of them.

No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the operation, according to officials.

Saadi, 61, has been jailed and released by Israel numerous times over the years.

Jenin is widely seen as a hotbed of terrorist activity. Gunmen and other attackers who carried out several deadly terrorist attacks earlier this year came from the city and its refugee camp.

In the pre-dawn hours of Monday, Israeli troops raided the homes of 39 Palestinians with alleged ties to the Hamas terror group, the military said. According to the IDF, 13 wanted Palestinians were detained during those raids.

Tensions have remained high in the West Bank, as Israeli security forces stepped up arrest raids and operations following a deadly wave of terror attacks against Israelis that left 19 people dead earlier this year.

Last week, two Palestinian gunmen were killed in an Israeli military raid in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

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