Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened on Thursday to “get back at [Israel] twice as hard,” after Israeli undercover police killed three Palestinians in the West Bank who allegedly carried out a string of recent shooting attacks.
On Tuesday, the Israeli troops conducted a rare daytime operation inside the Palestinian city of Nablus, killing the three terror suspects.
The three men were members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of armed groups loosely affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party.
“This was premeditated murder perpetrated by the vile Zionist occupier against our sons, our youth, our people,” Abbas said in an audio recording played by deputy Fatah leader Mahmoud al-Aloul at a mourners’ gathering for the dead gunmen.
“These incidents will not go idly by. We will not allow them to reoccur, nor will we remain quiet. We have been patient, we have borne this for 70 years. We will not bear this anymore,” he said.
“We will get back at them twice as hard,” Abbas warned. “We are the one [who are] aggressed upon; we did not aggress upon anyone.”
Abbas’s remarks came following harsh criticism by PA opponents, who argued that Ramallah’s policy of coordinating with Israel on security likely led to the police raid that targeted the three Palestinians.
The PA regularly works with Israel to crack down on Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank, a policy that is widely unpopular with the Palestinian public. Israeli security forces often warn their Palestinian counterparts beforehand that a raid is taking place.
The Yamam counterterrorism unit officers who conducted the raid used a so-called share taxi with Palestinian number plates to block the car carrying the suspects in Nablus’s al-Makhfiya neighborhood.
Israeli police denied that the operation was a targeted killing, saying that officers first sought to arrest the suspects. Police also said officers fired when they saw the suspects getting ready to shoot at them and killed them before they fired a shot.
The Israeli troops fired dozens of rounds into the car before seizing two M-16 rifles from the vehicle and driving away from the scene.
في وضح النهار، يغتال الاحتلال الإسرائيلي ثلاثة شبان فلسطينيين في مدينة #نابلس بزيهم العسكري يركبون سيارات تحمل نمرة فلسطينية، "يفجرون رؤوسهم بأكثر من 80 رصاصة"، حسب شهود عيان وفيديوهات متداولة، ويتأكدون من موتهم ثم ينسحبوا.#مجزرة_نابلس pic.twitter.com/vBG1vIcgD6
— مجدولين حسونة (@Majdoleen_H) February 8, 2022
Recent weeks had seen a spate of shooting attacks directed toward Israeli security forces and military positions in the northern West Bank, most recently on Saturday evening when shots were fired at a Border Police vehicle near Jenin. At least five such shooting attacks have been carried out in the past two weeks, none of which have caused Israeli injuries.
An Israeli security official said the Palestinian suspects were on their way to commit another attack, necessitating their intervention.
“They were a ticking bomb,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with departmental regulations. Designating a suspect an imminent threat gives security services legal leeway to use more force than they would otherwise be permitted to use.
After the attacks, thousands of Palestinians participated in the mens’ funerals, chanting for revenge against Israel.
Though the number of successful attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians has been relatively low, recent months have seen a rise in tensions in the West Bank.
In early December, Palestinian terrorists affiliated with Islamic Jihad shot and killed an Israeli civilian, Yehuda Dimentman, near the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank. Israeli forces later arrested several suspects in the attack.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.