IDF lifts closure on West Bank and Gaza; Shuafat and Nablus remain under lockdown

A closure on Nablus and the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat will continue as security forces search for terrorists.

 Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli security forces during a protest in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus, October 7, 2022.  (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli security forces during a protest in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus, October 7, 2022.
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

A closure placed on the West Bank and Gaza by the IDF for Sukkot ended Monday night despite increased tensions following a rise in shooting attacks.

A closure on Nablus and the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat will continue as security forces continue to search for the terrorists who killed two Israeli soldiers last week.

Troops have been searching for Udai Tamimi since he shot dead 18-year-old Sgt. Noa Lazar at the Shuafat checkpoint over a week ago. He is believed to be hiding in the refugee camp.

Security forces are also searching for a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a drive-by shooting attack that claimed the life of St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch last week. The attack was claimed by the Lions’ Den terrorist group, which is based in Nablus.

Israel closed all crossings between the West Bank and Israel for the final day of the Sukkot holiday on Sunday night. They were reopened following a security assessment after the holiday.

 Israeli soldiers block the entrance and exit for cars in the West Bank city of Nablus, on October 17, 2022, during an army operation.  (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90) Israeli soldiers block the entrance and exit for cars in the West Bank city of Nablus, on October 17, 2022, during an army operation. (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday afternoon held two security assessments with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as the head of the Mossad David Barnea, the head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Ronen Bar and other officials.

During the meetings, right before the holiday, the officials discussed the situation in the West Bank, as well as how best to handle the Lions’ Den.

On Friday, the Defense Ministry revoked the entry permits of 164 Palestinians related to suspected members of the Nablus-based group. According to Gantz, the militia comprises 30 gunmen.

You can run but you can't hide

Head of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Ghasan Alyan warned the terrorists that they would be found.

“Let the terrorists hiding amid the civilian population of Nablus be aware that their identity is well known to the security organizations, and that the path of terrorism that they have chosen will have repercussions for their families, who will no longer be able to earn their living in Israel,” he said.

Security organizations are “using all means at their disposal” to thwart terror in the West Bank, he added.

Over the past year, Alyan has denied the entry into Israel of more than 2,500 Palestinians related to terrorists who carried out attacks against civilians and troops.

On Sunday, Gantz visited the Gush Etzion region along with Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Avi Bloth and other officials.

Gantz spoke at a sukkah event hosted by Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, which included more than a dozen regional Palestinian visitors, such as Hebron businessman Ashraf Jabari.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits sukkah event hosted by Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, October 16, 2022 (credit: EFRAT LOCAL COUNCIL)Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits sukkah event hosted by Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, October 16, 2022 (credit: EFRAT LOCAL COUNCIL)

During his visit, he went to the Betar crossing, where he met with and thanked commanders and troops for “their actions for the security of the citizens of Israel,” his office said.

“Our duty is to enable security and eradicate threats. We are committed to this and we will continue our operations against terrorism and extend it as much as necessary and by all means - offensive, defensive, political and civil,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, a soldier was filmed shooting toward a home in the Palestinian village of Huwara south of Nablus. According to reports, the soldier claimed that a stone was thrown at his car from a home in the village when he was leaving for Sukkot.

Due to the seriousness of the incident, it will be investigated by the IDF’s Central Command and the Judea and Samaria Division. There has been a significant increase in the number of attacks by settlers against Palestinians, especially in the area of Huwara.

Security forces have been on high alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with security forces over the weekend, including one who had opened fire on the Beit El settlement and injured an Israeli man sitting in his sukkah.

On Sunday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh visited a mourning tent in Jenin for Palestinian gunmen killed while rioting against Israeli troops. Shtayyeh was seen standing alongside Fathi Khazem, the father of the terrorist who carried out a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv in April, along with other masked gunmen.

“We know with certainty that this occupation does not want peace, the occupation that every day bankrolls its electoral campaign with Palestinian blood,” he said. “From this camp of victims, the Jenin Refugee Camp, we state that the blood of martyrs and the darkness of the jail cells that our prisoners are forced to endure will not be in vain.”

Due to the increased violence, additional battalions were deployed across the West Bank during the holidays. Reserve Border Police battalions were also deployed to Jerusalem and surrounding areas after violent rioting broke out by Palestinians protesting the closure of the Shuafat refugee camp after a deadly shooting attack last week.

Operation Break the Wave

The IDF launched Operation Break the Wave in April following a spree of terror attacks that claimed the lives of 20 people in Israel. Forces have since arrested more than 2,000 Palestinians and confiscated weapons, funds and other terror paraphernalia.

According to the Palestinian Prisoner Service, 5,300 Palestinians have been arrested by Israel since the beginning of the year, including 111 women and 620 minors.

The arrest raids have also led to more than 100 Palestinians, mostly terrorists, being killed. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “so far, 2022 is the highest year for Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank, compared to the same period in the previous 16 years.”

Four Israeli security forces have been killed since the beginning of the operation.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.