A Border Policeman was seriously wounded and two Islamic Jihad fugitives killed on Tuesday afternoon in a gun battle that erupted in Arabe south of Jenin. Members of the border police's elite anti-terror unit were carrying out an operation to nab fugitives planning suicide bomb attacks in Israel.
The 34-year-old policeman who was shot in the head was airlifted to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, and his condition was as described serious.
|JPOST.COM HIT LIST|
See this past week's hottest JPost.com articles [click here]
The two Islamic Jihad fugitives were identified as Nidal Abu Sadah, 28, a senior Islamic Jihad commander in northern Samaria and Ahmed Tubassi,18, one of his helpers. A third Palestinian initially suspected of being an Islamic Jihad fugitive was arrested and detained for questioning by security officials.
According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Sadah and Tubassi were members of the same infrastructure responsible for the series of suicide bomb attacks in Netanya, Hadera, and the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv last year that resulted in the deaths and injuries of dozens of Israelis.
Sadeh and Tubassi were directly involved in an attempt to launch a double suicide bomb attack in Rosh Ha'ayin last December that was thwarted by IDF forces. Lt. Uri Binamo, an officer in the Nachshon Batallion, was killed when the suicide bombers blew up after being caught at an impromptu checkpoint outside of Tulkarm.
In 2005, the Islamic Jihad was behind the majority of the suicide bomb attacks in Israel and was the only group that totally ignored the so called tahdiya and continued plotting and launching attacks against Israeli, a security official told The Jerusalem Post
. The organization lacks the disciplinary hierarchy that exists in the Hamas, and refuses to recognize Israel or adhere to any calls of halting attacks against Israeli targets, the official added.
In recent months the army has accelerated its operations against Islamic Jihad members in northern Samaria, and earlier this month arrested Hussein Jeredat, 33, one of the most senior Islamic Jihad commanders in the area.
Acting on information pointing to the location of the fugitives, members of the elite anti-terror squad surrounded a house where they were believed to be hiding. Shortly after, Sadah and Tubassi, who were both armed, were spotted fleeing the house with a third suspected fugitive. The two opened fire at the border policemen, seriously wounding one, before they were shot dead. The third suspect was spotted fleeing to another building. The policemen surrounded the dwelling and the suspect was eventually arrested. Security officials said that while he was present during the gun battle, he was not armed when detained and was not a fugitive.
Security officials said that Sadah, wanted by Israel since 2004, was involved in stealing Israeli cars and through these activities made contacts with criminal elements working in Israel. His criminal activities soon spread to terror and Sadah was then charged with coordinating between the different Islamic Jihad cell members in the area and recruiting suicide bombers. Tubassi also maintained contacts with various Islamic Jihad members and personally assisted Sadah in planning attacks.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, security forces arrested 24 Palestinian fugitives affiliated with Hamas, Fatah Tanzim and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in a series of operations launched in villages near Bethlehem, Nablus, Kalkilya and Ramallah.
Meanwhile, the army revealed that overnight Monday soldiers thwarted an attempt by an unarmed Palestinian to infiltrate Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. The soldiers who caught the suspect handed him over to Israel Police for questioning. Officials said the intended infiltration was criminally motivated.
In the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night, Palestinians in Beit Hanoun and south of the former settlement Dugit in northern Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at the western Negev. One of the rockets fell into the sea, and the second is believed to have exploded near Zikim, in an open area, causing no damages or casualties, the army said.
Earlier in the day, soldiers stopped an attempt by an unarmed Palestinian to cross into Israel from northern Gaza. The suspect was arrested and handed over to security officials for questioning. Since the Gaza disengagement, security forces have thwarted 16 such attempts to enter Israel.