Senior terror suspect killed in West Bank shootout with security forces

Moatasem Ali holes up in building in Nur Shams refugee camp, is shot dead in gun battle; two other gunmen killed as they try to escape premises

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

Illustrative: Israeli security forces operating in Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarem in the West Bank on January 3, 2024. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)
Illustrative: Israeli security forces operating in Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarem in the West Bank on January 3, 2024. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

Israeli security forces killed a senior terror operative and another two gunmen in the West Bank’s Nur Shams refugee camp, close to Tulkarem, on Wednesday the army and police said in a joint statement.

Undercover Border Police officers and Israel Defense Forces reservists of the 8105th Battalion operated in Nur Shams for more than four hours following intelligence information provided by the Shin Bet security service.

The IDF said the troops encircled the building where the wanted Palestinian, Moatasem Ali, was holed up, and applied a tactic known as “pressure cooker” that involves escalating the volume of fire directed at a building to force suspects to come out.

Ali was accused of being a senior terror operative in Nur Shams, and responsible for previous shooting attacks against IDF troops.

The statement said that after “using various means,” and amid a gun battle, Ali was killed.

Two more gunmen who attempted to flee from the building where the wanted man was holed up were also killed, the statement said.

The troops also recovered weapons from the building.

The statement said no soldiers or officers were hurt in the raid.

Illustrative: Israeli security forces operate in the West Bank city of Jenin, December 14, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

In other operations overnight, security forces carried out raids in the West Bank city of Jenin and in Nur Shams, the IDF said. During those activities, terrorists threw explosive devices at soldiers as well as opened fire at them. Troops returned fire and engineering units uncovered improvised explosive devices that were placed along access routes used by security forces. During the operations, seven wanted suspects were arrested.

Meanwhile, in the city of Qalqilya security forces found a storage room that contained “very large amounts of materials to prepare explosive devices,” seized weapons, and arrested two suspects.

Weapons were also found in other locations in the West Bank during raids. In the town of Ya’bad a suspect was arrested who was found to be carrying weapons, the IDF said.

Suspects arrested in the overnight raids were handed over for further interrogation.

The IDF said there were no injuries to Israeli forces.

Violence in the West Bank has soared since October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst into Israel from Gaza by land, air and sea in a shock assault in which they massacred more than 1,200 people and seized some 253 hostages. In response to the deadliest attack in the country’s history, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip, where the terror group has ruled since 2007.

Since the beginning of the war 3,050 suspects have been arrested in the West Bank, of whom 1,350 are affiliated with Hamas, the IDF said.

This photo taken July 5, 2017 shows a neighborhood in the West Bank city of Qalqilya. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, some 300 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time.

Based on military estimates, the vast majority of those killed since October 7 were shot during clashes amid arrest raids, and many of them, according to data seen by The Times of Israel, were armed with either a firearm or an explosive device.

The IDF is aware of at least three cases of uninvolved Palestinians being killed by troops in recent months, and a handful of cases of settlers killing Palestinians, which are still under investigation.

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