The IDF has lifted an almost-month-long closure on Nablus on Thursday morning, after close to ten days without a shooting attack by the Lions’ Den group.
The closure was placed on the West Bank city of 170,000 people after a number of terror attacks claimed by the Lions’ Den militant group, including a drive-by shooting that killed 21-year-old St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch from the Givati reconnaissance unit.
All roads in and out of the city, including neighboring villages, were closed and individuals were only permitted to leave on certain roads and only after a “strict security check”.
According to Army Radio, the decision to lift the lockdown came after the majority of the group’s members were arrested, killed, or turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority security forces.
IDF operations in Nablus over the past month
Over the past month, the IDF has focused its operations in Nablus in an attempt to thwart the group from planning or carrying out more attacks.
Last week five Palestinians were killed in a raid by Israeli security forces, including a senior member of the group, Wadi al-Houh.
According to reports, al-Houh was considered a founding member of the Nablus-based group. His home was used as a hub where connections were made between bomb-makers and locals who would carry out attacks.
The raid came less than 48 hours after another senior member of the group, Tamer al-Kilani, was killed in an explosion in the Old City of Nablus. The Palestinians blamed Israel for what they called an “assassination,” claiming that a collaborator placed an explosive device on a motorcycle that detonated as he walked by.
Kilani was reportedly personally involved in several attacks, including numerous shootings around Nablus and sending a terrorist with a gun and pipe bomb to Tel Aviv. The latter was averted by Israeli law enforcement on the spot but had the potential to be a serious terror attack that could have resulted in high casualties.
According to a report in Haaretz, 20-year-old Muhammed Minawi was sent by Kilani to attack a synagogue in Bnei Brak after senior Lions’ Den leader Ibrahim al-Nablusi was killed during clashes with Israeli security forces in August.
The report said that while Minawi was sent to Bnei Brak, he ultimately decided to find a crowded place in Tel Aviv and “become a martyr” for the group.
Israeli security forces also conducted other operations throughout the West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave, arresting 14 wanted suspects.
Terrorist runs over IDF officer at checkpoint
Troops operated in the village of Beit Duqqu, the village of the terrorist who ran over an IDF officer at the Bell checkpoint near Modi'in on Wednesday.
The attacker was identified as 54-year-old Habes Rayyan, who was killed by the officer as he attempted to strike him with an axe.
During the operation overnight, violent riots broke out and 42-year-old Daoud Khalil Rayyan was shot in the chest by troops after he threw a Molotov cocktail toward the force.
Troops also carried out raids in a number of other villages, including Burqa, Yatta, umm el-Khir, al-Fawar, Beit Rima, Azaria and Aida, and in the cities of Hebron and Jenin. Four people were also arrested in Nablus.