IDF kills W. Bank Hamas commander as security tightened

Hamas blames Israel, PA for death; vows to avenge killing of the terrorist who the group says was a local leader of its armed wing in Tulkarm.

IDF soldiers at Gaza border 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
IDF soldiers at Gaza border 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
IDF soldiers shot and killed a senior Hamas commander in the West Bank on Friday as the military clamped a closure on the territories for the duration of Yom Kippur.
His death raised concerns that the current cycle of violence, which started two weeks ago with a drive-by terror shooting killing four Israelis near Hebron, would escalate.RELATED:IAF bombs Gaza after Rosh Hashana Kassam attacksAnalysis: Hamas stuck between peace talks and the IDFEditorial: A message for Hamas
Hamas vowed to avenge the death of Iyad Abu Shilbaya, 37, who the terrorist group said was a local leader of its armed wing in Tulkarm.
“The blood of our martyr will be a curse,” said Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Izzadin Kassam, Hamas’s armed wing. He blamed both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the killing.
The IDF said that soldiers had been sent into Tulkarm to arrest Shilbaya, who ignored calls to halt and started running toward the troops. They feared he was armed, and opened fire.
Shilbaya’s brother said soldiers burst into his home at around 3 a.m. and killed Shilbaya in his bedroom. A floor mat in the room and the bed were reportedly stained with blood.
The IDF said that Shilbaya was wanted for recent terrorist activity. A Hamas statement said he had served several stints in Israeli and PA jails. He was responsible for leading several attacks against Israel, the statement added.
Following Shilbaya’s death, Israeli soldiers and PA forces on high alert set up separate checkpoints on roads leading to Tulkarm, stopping cars and searching people’s documents.
Still, some 3,000 Hamas loyalists gathered to march at Shilbaya’s funeral in what was described as the largest – and boldest – gathering of Hamas supporters in the West Bank in three years.
The IDF lifted the closure imposed on the West Bank at midnight on Saturday.
Police were on alert in the Jerusalem area throughout Yom Kippur, stopping traffic from east to west Jerusalem to prevent terrorist attacks.
AP contributed to this report.