It is not known whether a senior Hamas operative targeted in an arrest raid in Jenin is dead or alive, hours after the operation, senior security sources said on Tuesday.
On Monday night, soldiers, accompanied by fighters from the Border Police’s elite Counter-Terrorism Unit and the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, encircled a building in Jenin in which the senior Hamas member was believed to be hiding.
The security suspect was considered armed and highly dangerous. His apparent location was identified by the Shin Bet; his identity cannot yet be disclosed.
During the arrest operation, the suspect did not emerge from the building. IDF Engineering Corps units eventually received an order to demolish the structure.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and firebombs at security personnel who had formed a ring around the area. Soldiers reported hearing shots fired in their vicinity.
A Counter-Terrorism Unit officer sustained moderate wounds during the operation, and was evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Security personnel exited Jenin shortly after 5 a.m. on Tuesday after demolishing the structure. It remains unclear whether the Hamas operative was in the building, fled or was buried under the rubble.
The Shin Bet has disbanded some 150 Hamas cells in Judea and Samaria over the past year, many of which were set up and operated remotely by the organization’s headquarters in the Gaza Strip or Turkey.
Earlier this month, the Shin Bet arrested members of a Hamas terrorist cell suspected of shooting and killing Israeli civilian Malachi Rosenfeld in June – one of two deadly shooting attacks in the West Bank that month. The cell was led by a Hamas operative based in Jordan who was released as part of the Schalit prisoner swap.
“Hamas is attempting to rebuild its infrastructure in Judea and Samaria,” a security source told The Jerusalem Post in July. “It is seeking to set up cells and get them ready for the day the order [to attack on a large scale] arrives. This is our main effort: to thwart these efforts,” he said.