Nachshon Battalion commander wounded in hunt for Fatah terrorist

It was supposed to be just another arrest raid in the West Bank, like those the Nachshon Battalion carries out almost every day in the narrow alleyways of cities like Tulkarm and Kalkilya. But on Monday, the operation was anything but ordinary. At 3:15 a.m., a small contingent from the battalion arrived by foot at their destination - a row of three homes in the Tanaba neighborhood of Tulkarm. The target was Morad al-Basa, a Fatah-Tanzim terrorist wanted for involvement in a number of attacks. While the soldiers were surrounding the homes and ordering people outside, one of the officers spotted something suspicious in the backyard - a small, locked room. Battalion Commander Lt.-Col. Nir Bar-On, together with another soldier, decided to check it out. When they kicked down the door, they were met by a burst of machine-gun fire. One of the bullets hit Bar-On in the arm. Despite the wound and without hesitating, Bar-On returned fire and then jumped back in search of cover. The exchanges of gunfire continued for another minute until a soldier threw a grenade into the room killing the gunman, who turned out to be the terrorist the troops were after. "There was no time to even think to take care of myself," Bar-On told The Jerusalem Post later Monday, after he had been released from the hospital. "The first thing we needed to do was neutralize the terrorist. Once that was done I began to understand what happened to me." Senior officers in the Central Command praised Bar-On's performance, saying his quick instincts and decision to charge the terrorist even while injured were an example of the qualities and values that Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was trying to instill within the IDF. The officers confirmed that it was rare for senior officers, such as battalion commanders, to get wounded during routine arrest operations. After receiving quick treatment from a medic, Bar-On waited for the regional brigade commander to arrive before agreeing to be evacuated to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. There, doctors told him he was lucky the bullet missed the bone and just hit flesh as it entered and exited his arm, just below the elbow. A few hours later, he was back inside Tulkarm helping his men wrap up the operation. Speaking to the Post on Monday afternoon, Bar-On was busy preparing for that night's operation, hunting another terror suspect. "There will be time for rest and family later," he said. "Tonight, I will be back with my soldiers, where as a battalion commander I feel I need to be."