A wanted member of a terror cell who reportedly managed to evade previous attempts to capture him was one of three people killed during a fierce gun battle with Israeli troops in Nablus on Tuesday morning. A further 40 people were reported injured.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, soldiers surrounded the home of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Ibrahim Nabulsi, leading to an exchange of gunfire.
The IDF, Border Police, and Shin Bet security agency issued statements saying Nabulsi had been killed there, along with another terrorist.
Israeli troops used shoulder-launched missiles against the building in which Nabulsi was hiding, the IDF said. After scanning the home and confirming Nabulsi was killed, troops found a large number of explosive devices and other weapons, the Shin Bet said.
According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, three Palestinians were killed and 40 were wounded and at least four were in critical condition. The ministry identified the dead as Nabulsi, Islam Subuh, and Hassin Jamal Taha.
In a statement, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad branded Nabulsi as a “commander” and Subuh and Taha as “mujahideen.” The terror group did not claim them as members.
Israeli officials said no troops were hurt during the operation, but a Border Police dog, Zili, was killed by the fugitives’ gunfire.
Palestinians traded gunfire with the Israeli army in the old city of Nablus, where troops had attempted to capture Nabulsi.
صور| آثار الدمار في المكان الذي اشتبك فيه مقاومون مع قوات الاحتلال الخاصة في البلدة القديمة بنابلس صباح اليوم. pic.twitter.com/qsjZdZeYTE
— وكالة الرأي (@alrayps) August 9, 2022
Clashes also broke out in other parts of Nablus, as Palestinians hurled explosive devices and stones at the troops, according to the IDF. Soldiers responded with “riot dispersal means” and live fire, hitting a number of Palestinians the IDF said.
Heavy gunfire was heard from the ongoing clashes, as dozens of Israeli military vehicles brought traffic in one of the West Bank’s largest cities to a standstill.
Nabulsi was part of a squad that had committed several shooting attacks against soldiers and civilians in the West Bank earlier this year, according to the Shin Bet. The IDF said that included a shooting attack at the Joseph’s Tomb complex in the outskirts of Nablus.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he “sends his appreciation to the security forces in the field who dedicate their lives to the security of the citizens of Israel.”
“The elimination of the terrorist Ibrahim Nabulsi is another step in our uncompromising fight against terrorism. I welcome the combined action of the security organizations,” Lapid said in a statement published by his office.
“The Shin Bet once again proved its intelligence superiority against terror organizations. I would like to thank the men and women of the Shin Bet who took part in the operation, for their courage, creativity, and determination to reach and strike the terrorists in places they mistakenly thought would be a haven for them,” Lapid said.
Speaking on the elite police Yamam counterterrorism unit’s dog that was killed, Lapid said “Zili was part of the unit, loved and a professional. He will be missed by the unit, he will be missed by the dog handlers and the fighters he accompanied repeatedly in operational activity.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also hailed Tuesday’s operation, saying Israel would “continue to act in a focused and powerful manner against terrorism in all areas, and against anyone who threatens the citizens of Israel.”
“Whoever threatens — will not live,” Gantz said on Twitter.
In February, Israeli troops killed three members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades cell in Nablus. While Nabulsi was initially believed to have been killed during that operation, he was seen attending the funerals of his fellow cell members.
الشهيد ابراهيم النابلسي، قدم حياته في عاشوراء الامام الحسين pic.twitter.com/15N6f4vIzF
— Qassem S Qassem (@QassemsQassem) August 9, 2022
Palestinian media have since hailed Nabulsi as a hero for repeatedly managing to evade Israeli arrest, although Israeli officials have said he was not always the target of arrest operations in Nablus.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is a coalition of armed groups associated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party. The terror group has carried out joint attacks with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.
The operation came less than 48 hours after Israel and PIJ reached a ceasefire following three days of armed conflict in and around the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, the terror group warned it may resume fighting unless Israel agrees to release two of its members.
The Egyptian-mediated deal, which went into effect at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, ended a three-day conflict that began Friday with Israeli strikes that killed a top PIJ commander. Palestinian terrorists subsequently fired around 1,100 rockets toward Israeli territory, while the Israel Defense Forces hit Islamic Jihad targets and killed another of the Iran-backed organization’s top leaders in Gaza.
The three days of conflict was sparked by the arrest by the IDF of the Islamic Jihad’s West Bank head Bassam Saadi in a raid on Jenin last week and the terror group’s subsequent threats to carry out terror attacks in retaliation.
Tensions have remained high in the West Bank, as Israeli security forces stepped up arrest raids and operations following a deadly wave of terror attacks against Israelis that left 19 people dead earlier this year.
In separate raids across the West Bank overnight, troops detained four wanted Palestinians, the IDF said Tuesday morning.
Times of Israel staff and Agencies contributed to this report.