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(photo credit: AP [file])
The IDF thwarted a major suicide attack when it killed at least three Palestinian gunmen during a raid in Nablus's Balata refugee camp Wednesday.
In the pre-dawn raid, paratroopers and troops from the Heruv Battalion surrounded a home after the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) provided intelligence indicating that its inhabitants, known terrorist suspects, were planning a suicide attack.
According to a source in Central Command, five Palestinians were killed in a gun battle. Security forces suffered no casualties.
Following the gun battle, security forces apprehended the two suspects it had come to arrest. They led the soldiers to a hiding place where they had kept a 10-kilogram explosives belt. The Shin Bet believes it was to be used in an attack in the coming days.
The suspects, Abdullah Haled Mahmad Qatawi and Jihad Yusef Shamah Dukan, were affiliated with the terrorist infrastructure in Nablus, which was helping them plan the attack.
The explosives belt was destroyed in a controlled explosion and the two suspects were detained by the Shin Bet for further questioning.
"This was part of a series of pressure raids we are carrying out in the city of Nablus and its surroundings," the deputy commander of the Paratrooper Brigade's Battalion 101, Maj. Meir, said. "There is no doubt that we thwarted a major terrorist attack."
Earlier Wednesday, IAF aircraft bombed a home in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, which the IDF said hid a weapons-smuggling tunnel between Gaza and Egypt. Palestinians said a 14-year-old girl was killed in the strike. The IDF said it was investigating the claim.
The house belonged to Sammy al-Shaer, a weapons dealer, witnesses said. The IDF said it called Shaer 15 minutes before the attack and told him to leave, which he did, witnesses said.
There were no major casualties in the initial strike, which leveled the house. However, as children gathered to look at the rubble, a second air strike hit the house, killing the 14-year-old girl and wounding seven other children, hospital officials said.
AP contributed to this report.
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