Shots fired at military post in central West Bank, gunman shot dead — IDF

Gunfire near settlement of Ofra comes hours after attack near another military post, amid uptick in shootings in West Bank

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

An SKS assault rifle used by a Palestinian gunman in a shooting attack against a military post near the West Bank settlement of Ofra, December 7, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
An SKS assault rifle used by a Palestinian gunman in a shooting attack against a military post near the West Bank settlement of Ofra, December 7, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Palestinian gunman who opened fire from a passing vehicle at a military post near the West Bank settlement of Ofra on Wednesday afternoon was shot dead following a brief chase, the military said.

It was the second shooting attack within hours, and came amid an uptick in attacks in the West Bank.

Footage published by Palestinian media outlets purportedly showed the moment of the attack. The gunman can be seen standing outside of his vehicle firing several times toward the military post.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops returned fire before beginning a pursuit of the gunman, who fled the scene. He was shot dead in the nearby Palestinian town of Dayr Dibwan.

“During the pursuit, the suspect spotted the soldiers, got out of the vehicle and fired at them. The soldiers responded with live fire and neutralized the assailant,” the IDF said in a statement.

Images from the scene showed the dead gunman on the ground next to an SKS assault rifle, the gun apparently used in the attack.

The man was named by Palestinian media as Mojahed al-Najjar, 32, a former Palestinian prisoner in Israel.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said it was notified of al-Najjar’s death.

A Palestinian gunman who was shot dead by Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Dayr Dibwan shortly after an attack on an IDF post nearby, December 7, 2022. (Courtesy)

The IDF said it was conducting scans in the area for additional suspects.

No soldiers were hurt in the shooting attack, which came hours after Palestinians shot at a military post close to the nearby village of Nabi Saleh in the early hours of Wednesday.

On Monday night, the same military post near Ofra was targeted by Palestinian gunmen, without causing any injuries.

The military said it suspected al-Najjar was responsible for Monday’s attack, as well as other recent shootings in the area.

In a Facebook post a day before Wednesday’s shooting, al-Najjar said: “My time has come to meet Allah.”

Earlier Wednesday, Palestinian gunmen clashed with Israeli troops in the northern West Bank city of Nablus during an attempt by the army to arrest a wanted man.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Nablus-based Lion’s Den terror groups said their members had opened fire at the Israeli troops in the area, claiming to have prevented them from conducting an arrest.

The IDF said no suspects were detained in Nablus, but eight Palestinians were arrested elsewhere across the West Bank, with some violent incidents.

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early December 7, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

The IDF has recorded around 300 shooting attacks and attempts against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank this year, compared to just 91 last year.

Tensions have been high in the West Bank over the past year, with the IDF launching a major anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 31 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year.

The operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids, but has also left more than 150 Palestinians dead, many of them — but not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

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