Three Palestinian gunmen were killed during intense clashes with Israeli troops in the northern West Bank city of Jenin before dawn on Thursday, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
The Israel Defense Forces said troops came under “accurate gunfire” when they entered the city and the adjacent Jenin refugee camp to arrest three wanted terror suspects.
A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed to have opened fire on Israeli troops and hurled explosives at them.
Heavy gunfire could be heard in videos published online.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry identified the three fatalities as Sidqi Zakarneh and Tariq al-Damej, both 29, and Atta Shalabi, 46.
Images circulating online showed Zakarneh and al-Damej brandishing assault rifles, indicating they were members of local armed groups. The PIJ later claimed al-Damej as a member.
اقمار مدينة جنين ..
الشهيد المجاهد صدقي زكارنه – جنين
الشهيد المجاهد عطا شلبي – قباطيه الشهيد المجاهد طارق الدمج – مخيم جنين pic.twitter.com/OWEgPxPDGi
— إسراء درويش (@isra_darwish) December 8, 2022
Arabic media reports said that additional Palestinians were injured in the raid, without specifying further.
The military said Border Police special forces and IDF soldiers entered the Jenin refugee camp to arrest Khaled a-Hija, a Palestinian suspected of involvement in terror activities.
“During the operation, suspects hurled explosives and fired accurate shots at the troops, who responded by firing,” the military said.
In the city of Jenin itself, the IDF said soldiers arrested two terror suspects, Ahmed Jaradat and Dajf Bajes.
“The forces operated under accurate fire by suspects in the area and returned fire,” the IDF said, adding that “hits were identified.”
The IDF added that troops seized a weapon from one of the gunmen they shot.
Palestinian media also published photos of a military map that had apparently been dropped by a soldier in Jenin. The codenames of various roads in the city were France, Portugal, Brazil, The Netherlands, Argentina, and England, apparently in reference to the ongoing World Cup in Qatar.
A military spokesperson said the IDF was looking into the matter.
تغطية صحفية: فلسطينيون ينشرون صورًا لخرائط يتداول أنها سقطت من قوات الاحتلال خلال عملياتها في جنين فجر اليوم، والناطق باسم جيش الاحتلال: "التفاصيل قيد الفحص". pic.twitter.com/0ZFgtIeZuG
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) December 8, 2022
Elsewhere in the West Bank, the IDF said troops arrested 12 more wanted Palestinians.
No soldiers were hurt in the overnight raids in Jenin or elsewhere in the West Bank, the military said.
The 15 detained suspects were all transferred to the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.
تغطية صحفية: مقاومون يستهدفون آليات الاحتـــلال خلال اقتحام جنين. pic.twitter.com/73mLEqtN3f
— Jmedia (@Jmediaps) December 8, 2022
Tensions have been high in the West Bank over the past year, with the IDF conducting an ongoing 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 160 Palestinians dead, many of them — but not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.
Many of the deadly clashes have occurred in the Jenin and Nablus area, where the Israeli forces have repeatedly conducted arrest operations. Last Thursday, two Palestinian terror operatives were killed during a gun battle with Israeli special forces in Jenin.
In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have also repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.
On Wednesday afternoon, a Palestinian gunman was shot dead after he opened fire on a military post near the settlement of Ofra, fled, and opened fire again on troops who chased after him.
During the overnight operations, the IDF said troops questioned the family members of the gunman, Mojahed al-Najjar.
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.