Suspect in West Bank shooting attack arrested, Palestinian gunman killed in clashes

2 journalists, suspect’s brother injured in unclear circumstances in clashes during Yom Kippur operation; Salman Imran accused of involvement in attack on taxi, bus

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian terror suspect during a raid in the village of Deir al-Hatab near the West Bank city of Nablus, Oct. 5, 2022 (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian terror suspect during a raid in the village of Deir al-Hatab near the West Bank city of Nablus, Oct. 5, 2022 (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

A Palestinian gunman was killed as Israeli security services arrested a suspect in the Sunday shooting attack on a taxi and bus in the West Bank, it was announced Wednesday.

Salman Imran, 35, from the village of Deir al-Hatab near Nablus was arrested after he surrendered to Israeli forces, according to a joint statement from the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service.

“Soldiers surrounded the residence of the suspect. The suspect shot at the soldiers while barricaded inside the residential building,” the army said in a statement.

The suspect’s gunman’s brother was injured in clashes surrounding the operation, carried out during Yom Kippur.

Two journalists were also reportedly injured in unclear circumstances.

Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, said the two journalists were employees of state television network Palestine TV.

“A claim is being made about two members of the media who were present in the fighting area and were injured, it is not known as a result of what,” the IDF said.

A Palestinian youth hurls stones toward Israeli military vehicles in the West Bank village of Deir al-Hatab east of Nablus, during an arrest operation targeting the suspect in a terror attack on October 5, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

According to security services, Imran was a member of the Hamas terror group and had been imprisoned in the past. An M-16 rifle was seized during the arrest raid.

Imran was detained on suspicion of involvement in the attack on Israeli vehicles on Sunday between the Palestinian town of Bayt Furik and the settlement of Elon Moreh.

A taxi driver was lightly injured in the attack which also targeted a bus.

Security forces surrounded Imran’s home and he refused to come out, the military said.

The statement said Imran opened fire toward Israeli troops and at one stage, his brother was injured. The statement did not further clarify the circumstances surrounding how the man sustained his injuries.

Additionally, the statement said gunmen in the vicinity opened fire at the Israeli troops, who returned fire, killing at least one gunman.

Alaa Zaghal, 21, “died of a bullet wound to the head fired by the occupation [Israeli] army,”  said the Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry in a statement.

The arrest operation was carried out in response to the Sunday attack in which at least one gunman opened fire at Israeli vehicles driving along Route 555 in the West Bank. A taxi was hit, wounding the driver. A bus was also hit, but there were no injuries.

Video circulating on social media apparently showed the moment the bus was targeted.

An armed Palestinian faction calling itself Lion’s Den claimed responsibility for the shooting in a statement.

The group — based in Nablus’ old city — was established in recent months by members of various terror groups. Some of its members were apparently previously affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Lion’s Den is tied to Ibrahim Nabulsi, a Palestinian gunman who was killed in an Israeli raid in Nablus last month.

It has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in the northern West Bank in recent weeks.

A taxi that was apparently hit by gunfire on a West Bank road, October 2, 2022. (Samaria Regional Council)

The operation came as Hussein al-Sheikh, PA Civilian Affairs Minister and PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General, visited Washington for talks with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

The White House on Tuesday said that Sullivan had “stressed the need to take steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank by countering terrorism and incitement.”

Sunday’ attack came amid a surge in violence in the West Bank.

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

The Israel Defense Forces and police have been on heightened alert since last week amid the Jewish holiday season, with tensions already high due to an Israeli anti-terror offensive that has seen over 100 Palestinians killed and more than 2,000 arrested in nightly raids in the West Bank.

The military launched the arrest operations after a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May. In another suspected attack in September, an elderly woman was killed by a Palestinian man in the central city of Holon.

Israeli troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in Palestinian cities in the West Bank. During an operation in May, a police commando was killed as troops were wrapping up an arrest operation in the Jenin area. Last month, a senior IDF officer was killed in a gun battle with Palestinians on the northern West Bank security barrier.

However, the IDF is “logistically unprepared” to continue the major arrest operation in the West Bank, according to an “urgent” state comptroller report released Sunday.

AFP contributed to this report.

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