Security officials were concerned on Thursday that militant groups in the Gaza Strip could launch rockets at Israel after overnight clashes in the West Bank killed two senior militants, including a top Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) field commander. , Hebrew media reported.
Two fighters were killed in heavy clashes with Israeli troops during a pre-arranged arrest raid near the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Palestinian media reported that at least 20 other people were injured.
Both the PIJ and the Hamas terror group that governs the Gaza Strip threatened to retaliate over the deaths.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq ez al-Din said in a statement that the “massacre” of people in Jenin and the death of its fighters “will not go without a response.”
Hamas declared a general strike in the camp and also threatened to take action.
Both the Cannes public broadcaster and Channel 13 quoted unnamed security officials as saying that Israel was preparing for the possibility of a rocket fire.
the dead have been identified as Mohammad Ayman Saadi from the PIJ and Naeem Zubaydi from the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, although different armed factions are known to work together in Jenin against the IDF.
Over the past year, PIJ has launched rockets into Israel in response to members being killed or arrested in the West Bank.
Earlier this month, the IDF bombarded the Gaza Strip in response to four rockets fired at Israel. that rocket fire came hours later drink more Commander Farouk Salameh was killed during an Israeli military operation in Jenin.
In August, Israel clashed with PIJ in three days of fighting, during which the terrorist group launched approximately 1,175 rockets into Israeli territory. fighting erupted after Israel’s attack In response to what Israeli leaders said was a “concrete” threat to target Israeli civilians and soldiers in Gaza-border areas on PIJ targets in Gaza. A senior PIJ commander was killed in the initial attacks.
In a joint statement about Thursday’s early morning raid, the IDF and Shin Bet security agency said Saadi and Zubeidi were senior militants. Both of the gunmen killed were in their 20s, but had already served time in Israeli prisons for security offences.
The statement said Saadi was a “key PIJ military operative”, responsible for a series of shooting attacks against soldiers under instructions from the PIJ leadership, and passing weapons to other operatives.
The statement said Zubaidi was also responsible for several firings on Israeli forces in the West Bank. Palestinian media said Zubaidi was a relative of notorious Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist Zakaria Zubaidi, who masterminded terror attacks during the Second Intifada and briefly managed to escape from an Israeli prison last year.
Tensions have been high in the West Bank over the past year, with the IDF launching a major counter-terrorist operation, mostly focused on the northern West Bank, to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks, including Israeli and West Bank attacks. 31 people have died. since the beginning of the year.
The operation has made more than 2,500 arrests in nearly nightly raids, but has also released more than 150 Palestinians, many of them – but not all – for carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.
Emmanuel Fabian contributed to this report.