At least five Palestinians were killed on Monday morning in an IDF raid on a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Jericho. The IDF said that the dead were Hamas terrorists and members of a terror cell that attempted to carry out a shooting attack at a restaurant near Jericho late last month.
The attempted attack targeted a restaurant in Vered Yeriho on January 28, when two terrorists attempted to fire at a restaurant in which 30 people were present. The terrorists' weapons jammed and the two fled back to Jericho.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and IDF Intelligence Directorate discovered that the two had barricaded themselves in an apartment in the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp near Jericho and intended to continue conducting attacks.
New Hamas cell launches in Jericho area
Last week, a new terrorist cell affiliated with Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades announced its establishment in the Aqabat Jaber camp. Members of the cell, which called itself the "Aqabat Jaber Battalion", were said to have conducted armed clashes with Israeli forces operating in the Jericho area.
Israeli forces had attempted to arrest the members of the cell behind the attempted attack on Saturday, but failed to do so. A number of other suspects who are part of the Hamas cell were arrested in that raid and at least 13 Palestinians were injured in the clashes.
On Monday morning, armed clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces as they entered Jericho and the Aqabat Jaber camp, with a number of Palestinians reportedly killed and at least three wounded, according to Palestinian reports. No Israeli personnel were injured in the operation.
تغطية صحفية: "إسقاط طائرة استطلاع خلال الاشتباكات العنيفة بمخيم عقبة جبر في أريحا". pic.twitter.com/k5HgLQ4Zv3— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) February 6, 2023
The bodies of the five terrorists killed in the clashes have been seized by Israeli forces, according to the Governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley, Jihad Abu Al-Assal.
The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that it was following up on the issue with the Palestinian Civil Affairs Authority and that it did not have any official information concerning the health status of the Palestinians seized by the IDF.
Senior Hamas official Shaker Amara was also arrested in Jericho on Monday morning, according to Palestinian reports. Amara has been detained and imprisoned by Israel on multiple occasions. Relatives of the terrorists who conducted the attempted attack were arrested in Jericho as well on Monday.
Palestinian media additionally claimed that terrorists in the area managed to down an Israeli drone, with video reportedly from the scene showing youths throwing bricks at a drone laying on the ground.
The IDF confirmed that a Sky Rider drone fell in the camp and that there was no concern of information being leaked.
The raid was conducted by the IDF's coed Lions of the Jordan Valley Battalion.
Haniyeh: 'The enemy will not enjoy calm'
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned after the raid that Palestinian movements would continue to operate, stating "The succession of the enemy's killing in the West Bank will be a disaster for him, and all international or regional interventions will not succeed in stopping the revolutionary tide of our people, and the enemy will not enjoy calm, and the days are debated as long as our people have a beating heart."
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem warned that "Our people and their resistance will not delay in responding to this crime."
Palestinians across the West Bank closed shops and schools in a strike on Monday and called to clash with Israeli forces near the Green Line.
Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir welcomed the IDF operation near Jericho on Monday, saying "a terrorist is a mortal and anyone who tries to harm the citizens of Israel knows that he will pay a heavy price for his activities and our security forces will reach him wherever he hides. The Israeli government will wage a stubborn and uncompromising war against terrorism and with God's help we will bring security to the citizens of Israel."
On Sunday evening, the Aqabat Jaber battalion launched "Days of Rage," claiming that Israeli forces had closed roads around Jericho and set up restrictive checkpoints at the entrances to the city in the days since the attempted attack.
"The succession of the enemy's killing in the West Bank will be a disaster for him, and all international or regional interventions will not succeed in stopping the revolutionary tide of our people, and the enemy will not enjoy calm, and the days are debated as long as our people have a beating heart."Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated on Sunday that it had launched increased operations in the Jericho area, including more intensive checks of vehicles leaving the city, after the attempted shooting attack. The IDF stressed that there was no lockdown on Jericho and that traffic was flowing freely in and out of the city.