IDF increasing operations in W. Bank

Rise in terror activities over the weekend sparks action; 23 fugitives arrested.

palestinan woman 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
palestinan woman 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
In response to an increase in terror incidents in the West Bank, the IDF was increasing its operations in the area on Sunday morning. Security forces arrested 23 Palestinian fugitives in the West Bank overnight. On Saturday night, a Palestinian from the village of Dir-Nizam west of Ramallah was killed by IDF gunfire. IDF sources said that soldiers spotted two Palestinians as they placed a suspicious looking bag near the settlement of Neveh Tzuf (Halamish) and fired at them. The second man was detained and in his interrogation he revealed that the bag contained a dummy bomb, but an inspection of it uncovered rocks. Earlier, soldiers from the Haruv battalion staging a routine arrest of wanted Palestinian fugitives nabbed 10 kilograms of explosives in a West Bank village and then made a dramatic discovery. "The wife of the one of the fugitives held her baby with two hands and held a bag with a hand grenade underneath its shirt to hide it from the soldiers," said Lt.-Col. Arik Chen, commander of the battalion. The pre-dawn raid in the village of Atzira Shamaliyeh north of Nablus ended peacefully after soldiers quickly separated the live hand grenade from the mother and baby. "She didn't have much to say," Chen told Army radio. Chen said his force had staged the raid on five separate houses after a tip off that members of Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were hiding weapons there. "After we cordoned off the houses we deployed to start searching them. In one house we found a suitcase in a closets that contained 10 kilograms of TAPT explosives," Chen said. "It looked like a totally innocent bag until you opened it." "We didn't expect this quantity of explosives," he added. At that moment, Chen said, the behavior of the wife of the suspected terrorist started behaving in an unusual manner and held her six-month baby in a way that raised their suspicions. "We examined her all the while she held on to the baby and we detected that underneath the baby, or inside its clothes really, was a bag with a hand grenade," Chen said. "Right next to the back of the baby!" In the dramatic moments that followed Chen said they didn't know if the hand grenade was set to go off or not. The first thing they did was separate the mother and child from the hand grenade. It was later added to the suitcase of explosives which sappers later detonated inside the house since there were concerns it may have been booby-trapped. The blast totally destroyed the house, Chen said. News agencies identified the woman as Aziza Jawabra and quoted her as admitting she knew the grenade was near her baby son, but didn't know it was in the pocket of the jacket. A total of five suspected terrorists were apprehended and brought in for questioning. The raid came a day after IDF troops shot dead one Palestinian gunman and mortally wounded another late Friday in the village of Anabta near Tulkarum. The army said the Palestinians had opened fire on an IDF patrol and the soldiers returned fire. When sweeping the village the IDF troops identified one of the dead men, who was clutching a hunting rifle. The second Palestinian wounded in the incident was evacuated to a Palestinian hospital and later died of his wounds. Meanwhile, a spokesman for a Palestinian terror group made unprecedented threats against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Saturday. "The Palestinians will do everything in their power to hurt Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, rip his heart out and erase the smile off his face and his people's face, just as he is erasing the smiles of our people when he murders our women and our children," Popular Resistance Committees' spokesman Mahmoud Abed Al-al told ABC Australia, Army Radio reported. According to the spokesman, "[Israel] should be expecting surprises. If the need arises, any place in Israel could become a target for us. I want to turn Sharon's life into hell on earth since he has turned the lives of the Palestinians into hell." Al-al also took responsibility for the recent firing of a Kassam rocket at Sharon's private Sycamore Ranch near Ofakim. The rocket was found not far from the grave of Sharon's wife, Lili. The spokesman also claimed that the Palestinians have managed to transfer to the West Bank the know-how and technology of making Kassam rockets.