IDF arrests wanted Islamic Jihad man, clashes with gunmen in northern West Bank

Terror group says Alaa Zakarna ‘refused to surrender’ until he ran out of ammunition as troops surround home in Qabatiya; seven Palestinians said hurt in clashes

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

File: Israeli soldiers operate in the West Bank, August 25, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
File: Israeli soldiers operate in the West Bank, August 25, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian gunmen while operating in the northern West Bank town of Qabatiya on Monday morning, the military said.

Palestinian media reports said soldiers surrounded a building in the town near Jenin where several suspects were holed up and called on them to surrender.

One wanted Palestinian, later identified as a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was arrested when he turned himself in after an exchange of gunfire, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Alaa Zakarna, a former security prisoner in Israel, “refused to surrender and clashed with special forces until his ammunition ran out before his arrest,” a local wing of the terror group said in a statement.

The IDF said troops came under gunfire during the operation and returned fire. No soldiers were hurt. The PIJ said its members had shot at IDF troops as they “besieged” Zakarna’s home for an hour and a half.

The military added that troops seized an M-16 assault rifle after arresting Zakarna.

Footage showed dozens of Palestinians hurling stones at IDF vehicles entering the town.

Palestinian media reported that at least seven people were hurt in the clashes, some from gunfire. Their conditions were not immediately known.

IDF troops detained eight other Palestinians across the West Bank early Monday, seizing another M-16 rifle in Hebron, the military said.

The raids came amid a recent uptick of shooting attacks against Israeli security forces in the West Bank.

Overnight, soldiers returned fire after two separate IDF positions were shot at within a short time frame near the northern West Bank city of Nablus and the Palestinian town of Silwad. No soldiers were hurt in the two incidents.

On Friday night, an Israeli security vehicle came under fire near the settlement of Shavei Shomron in the northern West Bank. No one was injured in the attack, though the car belonging to the settlement’s security team was damaged.

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

At the beginning of this month, Israel’s arrest of Islamic Jihad’s West Bank leader, Bassem Saadi, sparked a three-day round of fighting with the terror group in the Gaza Strip during which the IDF killed several of the group’s top leaders and the PIJ fired more than 1,000 rockets toward Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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