Palestinians open fire at military post near Jenin; 17 suspects detained in raids

Military says no soldiers hurt in overnight incidents; Psagot settlement given lockdown orders for 3 hours after suspected infiltration

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

Israeli troops detain Palestinian suspects in the West Bank, early February 2, 2023.(Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops detain Palestinian suspects in the West Bank, early February 2, 2023.(Israel Defense Forces)

Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a military post near the northern West Bank city of Jenin early Thursday, as troops conducted extensive raids across the West Bank that saw 17 wanted Palestinians arrested, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The military said a structure at the post near Jenin was hit by at least one bullet, but no injuries were caused.

Separately, as troops were operating in the northern West Bank city of Nablus to arrest wanted Palestinians, shooting was heard as dozens hurled stones at the forces, the IDF said.

On Wednesday, American and Palestinian officials confirmed a report that the Biden administration has been urging the Palestinian Authority to adopt a plan aimed at boosting its security presence in the northern West Bank, where fighting between Israeli forces and local armed groups has grown increasingly deadly.

In recent months, the PA has seen its control over growing swaths of the West Bank slip away, particularly in Jenin and Nablus. Israel says that as a result, it has been forced to send its own troops into those areas — which under the Oslo Accords are supposed to be under full PA control — to carry out arrests of security suspects.

In the past, similar raids may have been carried out by the PA, which maintained security cooperation with the IDF until last week.

Many of the Israeli raids have sparked increasingly violent clashes with armed Palestinians frustrated over the incursions and the PA’s willingness to cooperate.

Israeli troops detain Palestinian suspects in the West Bank, early February 2, 2023.(Israel Defense Forces)

Also in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, the IDF said troops shot at Palestinians hurling stones at them in Qalqilya, adding that at least one suspect was hit.

The military said troops operating in the southern West Bank city of Hebron stopped a suspicious car, in which a handgun was found. Four men in the car were detained.

The 17 Palestinians who were wanted over suspected terror activities were taken to be questioned by the Shin Bet security agency.

No soldiers were hurt in the overnight incidents.

A handgun found in a car in the West Bank city of Hebron, early February 2, 2023.(Israel Defense Forces)

Meanwhile, a suspect infiltration alert sounded shortly before 3 a.m. on Thursday in the settlement of Psagot, near Ramallah. Residents were ordered to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows as troops conducted scans of the area. An all-clear was given by the IDF’s Home Front Command after about three hours.

The overnight West Bank raids came as the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket attack on southern Israel on Wednesday evening.

Tensions have been high as the IDF has pressed on with an anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of attacks that left 31 people in Israel dead in 2022, and seven more in an attack on Friday.

Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City during retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave early on February 2, 2023 (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The IDF’s operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. It also left 171 Palestinians dead in 2022, and another 35 since the beginning of the year, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians.

On Friday night, a Palestinian gunman from East Jerusalem killed seven people and injured three more in the capital’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, and the next morning, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and wounded two Israeli men near the Old City.

There has also been a rise in revenge attacks by Israelis against Palestinians following the two terror attacks.

The IDF bolstered forces in the West Bank following the recent incidents.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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