While the demise of Nablus-area Hamas commander Amjad Hinawi, killed by security forces in a raid before dawn on Monday, will hamper Hamas activities, the eight fugitives arrested in the same raid will supply much-needed intelligence and shed light on the Nablus infrastructure and the identities of others involved in terror.
Sources in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and army applauded Hinawiâ€™s death but cautioned, â€œIt is not enough to hit the head; we must also reach the tail.â€
Security forces had intended to arrest Hinawi in the raid, but he was shot and killed after he opened fire on troops.
Just as Jenin is considered the stronghold for the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Nablus has become the hotbed of Hamas, especially under Hinawiâ€™s command. According to the officials, Hinawi, whom they described as â€œa ticking bomb,â€ had intensified his efforts to improve the infrastructureâ€™s capability, stockpiling weapons and explosives. He planned to set up a bomb factory and was in the midst of planning a number of bombings at the time he was killed.
All this at a time when Hamas spokesmen have said they will continue to abide by the truce until the end of the year.
Security officials estimate that the results of Monday morningâ€™s raid could also have repercussions on other Hamas cells in areas such as Ramallah and Hebron, but that only constant military action against terrorists will succeed in thwarting their activities and destroying the infrastructures.
â€œIslamic Jihad has been the focus of many operations to rout out fugitives, as the organization has refused to abide by the truce and was responsible for the recent Hadera suicide bombing,â€ one official said. â€œHamas, on the other hand, has publicly declared its intention to uphold the truce and yet continues to plan attacks.â€
The official noted that, while Islamic Jihad is currently the target of constant IDF activity, only when information is received of â€œticking bombsâ€ is action taken against Hamas. Since disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Hamas has also attempted to transfer its knowledge of manufacturing Kassam rockets to cells in the West Bank.
Even before the Hadera bombing, the Shin Bet announced that 117 Hamas activists belonging to three separate West Bank terror networks had been arrested. The networks, in the Hebron and Ramallah areas, were responsible for the deaths of six Israelis and the wounding of 70 in attacks stemming as far back as 2003. Their arrests thwarted plans to bomb an air force helicopter, abduct and murder hikers and motorists and murder soldiers.
Since the Hadera suicide bombing, in which six Israelis were killed, the IDF has intensified its efforts in combating terror. Areas in northern Samaria have become the daily target of raids by security forces and hundreds of fugitives affiliated with Islamic Jihad and Hamas have been arrested. The raids are usually conducted against specific targets deep inside the Palestinian civilian population. Troops operate under complex and hazardous conditions and often come under gunfire.
An example of this is the tragic incident in which St.-Sgt. Yonatan Evron, 20, of Rishon Lezion, was killed in Marka near Jenin last month during an operation to arrest a senior Hamas fugitive involved in the Hadera suicide bombing. Evron, a soldier in the elite Maglan infantry unit, was securing the perimeter of the fugitiveâ€™s house as other soldiers brought the suspect out. A terrorist hiding in bushes behind the troops opened fire, hitting Evron in the head. He was the first soldier to be killed in the line of duty by terrorists since disengagement.
However, the much-needed information supplied by terrorists arrested in recent weeks during IDF raids has given security forces details regarding the whereabouts of those delving in terror and allows the army and Shin Bet to plot out the locations of future raids.
The constant and systematic approach adopted by security forces, officials said, and has already proven its worth. The intensive IDF action in the West Bank has caused a noticeable decrease in terrorism, though one should be aware that all the terror organizations operating in the West Bank continue planning attacks, officials said.