Three armed terrorists from the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in Nablus on Tuesday in the culmination of a joint IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) operation. The Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported that a fourth Palestinian had been arrested in the operation.
صور: عشرات الرصاصات اخترقت مركبة الشبان الثلاثة الذين ارتقوا برصاص الاحتلال في نابلس. pic.twitter.com/thNtwH7JZz— الرسالة للإعلام (@Alresalahpress) February 8, 2022
The terrorists belonged to a cell that was responsible for a series of shooting attacks against IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians in recent weeks, the IDF said. Two M16 assault rifles were seized in the operation.
Over 80 bullets were fired at the vehicle in which the three Palestinians were sitting, according to Palestinian reports. The Palestinian Authority's Council of Ministers called for the formation of an international investigative committee into what they called the "horrific crime" committed in the operation.
According to a senior Israeli defense official, the operation will continue as it is believed that at least one terrorist from the cell is still alive.
"The cooperation between the Shin Bet unit and the IDF is unparalleled in the fight against terrorism. The terrorist cells know that the Shin Bet, the Yamam and the the IDF will reach any terrorist who tries to harm our forces and the citizens of the State of Israel," said Yamam commander H.
Border Police Commander Amir Cohen stated that the YAMAM, Shin Bet and IDF have carried out intensive operations in recent weeks against a violent terrorist cell that carried out terrorist operations against Israeli security forces and civilians.
"Once again, you proved that the citizens of the State of Israel have someone to rely on, you acted with courage and brought about the thwarting of a dangerous terrorist cell that intended to continue carrying out terrorist activities," said Cohen in an address to YAMAM officers. "I'm proud of you. The corps will continue its joint activities with all security forces in order to thwart terrorism and protect all citizens of the State of Israel."
The three terrorists have been identified as Ashraf al-Mublasat, Adham al-Mabrouk and Muhammad al-Dakhil.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade warned that it would respond to the operation, saying "blood will be met with blood." Fatah's secretary in Nablus responded to the assassination, saying "We will not stand idly by, and the field will determine the response to the assassination."
Palestinian factions attacked the PA for its security coordination with Israel, placing partial responsibility for the operation on the Authority. Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Maher Al-Akhras told the Hamas-affiliated Al-Resalah news that the cell had been pursued by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The PIJ warned in a statement that the assassination would not "pass without a response, with which the enemy will realize that the resistance will not subside and that security coordination will not protect it or its settlers."
"We call on the forces of resistance to unite and close ranks, and work to expand the circle of engagement with the enemy to include all arenas and sites of confrontation," added the PIJ.
Joint List MK Ofer Cassif condemned the operation on Tuesday afternoon calling it an "extrajudicial execution" and "a mafioso and cowardly act that will only lead to further bloodshed." Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi also condemned the operation, calling the killed terrorists "martyrs."
After the operation, clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces throughout the West Bank.
Palestinian youth called for a day of rage in Ramallah on Wednesday in response to the assassination, including plans to clash with Israeli forces near Beit El, according to Palestinian reports.
The funeral for the three terrorists took place on Tuesday afternoon. A day of mourning was declared for Wednesday in Nablus. The Hamas movement condemned the assassination and called on local residents to participate in the funeral for the three terrorists.
موكب تشييع شهداء نابلس pic.twitter.com/9ICqI6vqRH— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) February 8, 2022
Shortly after the operation was announced, an Israeli taxi driver from central Israel was attacked and lightly injured after he accidentally drove into Nablus. The driver managed to get to a military roadblock where he received medical care and was detained for questioning. He told police that he entered Nablus in order to get his taxi fixed.
مصادر محلية: شبان غاضبون يحطمون مركبة يقودها مستوطن دخلت إلى مدينة نابلس. pic.twitter.com/lDHHKTfzOW— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) February 8, 2022
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the operation proved that Israel will reach anyone who wishes it harm.
"The Yamam, Shin Bet, IDF - our forces proved today, once again, that there is no immunity for terrorists. Whoever harms us, will be targeted," the prime minister said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz commended IDF and the Shin Bet for eliminating the terrorist cell, adding that he has ordered an increase in counterterrorism activities.
"We will continue our proactive activities and frustrate and lay our hands on anyone who tries to harm human life," Gantz said. "We need to make an effort and we are doing it, not to allow terrorism to raise its head in any sector and this effort will of course continue."