Two IDF soldiers wounded, 5 Palestinians killed in anti-Hamas operation

Intense clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces overnight as the IDF entered to make arrests throughout the West Bank.

 Islamic Jihad gunmen attend a funeral of one of the Palestinians killed late Saturday night in clashes with the IDF in the West Bank village of Burqin. (photo credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA)
Islamic Jihad gunmen attend a funeral of one of the Palestinians killed late Saturday night in clashes with the IDF in the West Bank village of Burqin.
(photo credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA)

Two IDF soldiers were injured and five Palestinians were killed by IDF troops after armed clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces during a wave of anti-Hamas operations across the West Bank. 

The head of the Rambam hospital’s trauma unit, Dr. Hani Bahus, said that the two were in serious, stable condition and had already undergone a number of surgeries.  He added that there was no direct threat to their lives from their “still severe and complicated injuries.”

It was not immediately clear who fired the shots that injured the officer and soldier from the elite Duvdevan unit but the military said that an initial investigation is leaning towards the two having been hit by friendly fire.

The wave of arrests in five different locations in the West Bank targeted a Hamas cell that Israeli security forces had been tracking for several days and was planning an attack. The raids were led by the Duvdevan counter-terrorism unit as well as the Israel Police and Border Police YAMAM and YAMAS counter-terrorism units and the Shin Bet security services.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement backing the IDF's overnight operation, saying that  "security forces acted tonight in Judea and Samaria against Hamas terrorists who were about to carry out imminent terrorist attacks. “

“The soldiers and commanders in the field acted as expected of them," Bennett said adding that "we fully support them."

Bennett, who was en-route to New York to address the United Nations later tweeted that he was praying for the recovery of Cpt. D and Sgt. Y.

Sources said that the large and heavily armed Hamas cell that was targeted during the arrests planned to carry out attacks in the West Bank. While security forces have arrested some 20 militants belonging to the cell, there are additional suspects who belong to the same cell who have not yet been arrested.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the troops from the IDF, Shin Bet and special forces from the Israel Police who took part in the raids and sent his best wishes to the troops who were injured.

They “acted against a Hamas terrorist cell and prevented the execution of terrorist attacks. We will continue to act in the face of terrorism wherever he may raise his head, on every front, in order to ensure the security of Israeli citizens,” he said.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ran Kohav told reporters on Sunday morning that Duvdevan special unit troops carried out arrests that took place in the town of Burqin, Jenin, Qabatiya, Kfr Dan, and Bidu north of Jerusalem.

 People check the scene where three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during a raid, in Beit Anan in the West Bank September 26, 2021. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS) People check the scene where three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during a raid, in Beit Anan in the West Bank September 26, 2021. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

The arrest operation began before midnight on Saturday night with troops from Duvdevan arrested one suspect along with his weapon in Jenin with no resistance. Shortly after midnight, Duvdevan troops carried out another raid in the village of Kfr Dan north of the flashpoint city and arrested another suspect without any violence.

Another raid, in the village of Burqin near Jenin took place in the predawn hours of Sunday targeting another armed suspect. Gunfire broke out after IDF troops surrounded the home where the suspect was hiding and demanded that he exit. The suspect was injured by IDF troops following a gunfight that broke out, he was arrested and taken into custody along with his weapon.

A second gunfight broke out in the village of Burqin between suspects and Duvdevan troops as well as YAMAM troops from the Israel Police. The suspects, identified by Palestinian media as 22-year-old Osama Sobah from the town of Burqin.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad later endorsed Sobah as a group member and threatened that “black days await Israel in the West Bank. It’s crimes will only intensify our resistance and unity.”

 Mother of Palestinian Osama Soboh, who was killed during clashes with IDF troops, mourns during his funeral in Burqin September 26, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA) Mother of Palestinian Osama Soboh, who was killed during clashes with IDF troops, mourns during his funeral in Burqin September 26, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA)

Three other armed Palestinians were killed in the clashes in Bidu with YAMAM troops. The three dead suspects, all Hamas militants, were identified as Ahmad Zahran, Mahmoud Humaidan and Zakaria Badwan. 

According to Kohav, the three had met to discuss ways to carry out an attack inside Israel when they were engaged by IDF troops. Another eight Palestinians were arrested during the firefight that began after the terrorists opened fire towards the troops.

Palestinian media also reported clashes in the village of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, and in Hebron. 

According to Kohav, since the Palestinians killed by IDF troops belonged to Hamas he could not say if the terror group would fire rockets towards Israel in response. 

“This was a Hamas cell, one that we have been following for a long time with intelligence from the Shin Bet. There’s always a chance that there can be rockets, especially since this was a Hamas cell and the group is always trying to connect Gaza to the West Bank,” he said.

Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou responded to the deadly clashes saying “the blood of the martyrs of Jerusalem and Jenin at dawn today will continue to fuel the continuation of our people's revolution against the occupier and a renewed determination to uproot and sweep it from our land.”

The deaths, he added were due to the ongoing security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel as well as the meetings held between senior Israeli and Palestinian ministers in Ramallah.

Those meetings “encouraged the occupation once again to pursue the resistance, kill its rebellious youth and commit more crimes against our people. The option of confronting the occupation and confronting it and resisting it, by all means, is best able to confuse the occupation and force it to stop its crimes, which requires the authority to end security coordination with the occupation and stop normalizing meetings with it.”

Israeli security forces carry out near-nightly raids in the West Bank in an effort to arrest wanted Palestinians as well as to uncover unofficial workshops producing illegal weapons and confiscate funds that could be used for terror. 

The firefight comes just over a day after Mohammad Ali Khabisa, 28, was killed during clashes with IDF soldiers near Beita, south of Nablus in the West Bank.

Tovah Lazaroff and Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.