An hours-long standoff between soldiers and terrorists holed up in mosque neared an end on Monday as Israeli forces took control of the lower floor of the building.
The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers entered the building after an exchange of fire and found two underground tunnels containing weapons, explosives, military equipment and two-way radios.
The terrorists may have fled into the mosque courtyard or into other tunnels below the mosque.
Israel launched a widescale counter-terror operation in the Jenin Refugee Camp in the early hours of Monday morning. Aerial drones struck a building in the camp that the IDF said served as a joint war room where the city’s terror groups coordinated activities. The IDF also said the building “served as an observation post, a gathering place for armed terrorists before and after terror acts, a cache for munitions and bombs and a communications center.”
Armored bulldozers were deployed to clear a path for soldiers as Arab terrorists planted explosives around the UN-administered camp.
Soldiers also uncovered laboratories for producing explosives including instruction manuals, bombs prepared for use and seized a home-made rocket launcher.
According to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, eight Arab terrorists have been killed and 27 wounded in the fighting. It wasn’t clear how many of the casualties were combatants. The IDF reported that one soldier was injured by shrapnel from a grenade thrown by another Israeli soldier.
Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Hamas foiled at least two attempts to launch rockets, including one by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad squad, Arab sources told the Tazpit Press Service.
The Eshkol Regional Council, which represents Israeli communities adjacent to Gaza, said it had have not received any special instructions from the IDF Homefront Command but later in the day, the IDF said it cancelled a concert scheduled to be held in Sderot on Monday night.
The incursion was widely anticipated by Israelis and Arabs alike as PA Arab terror mounted in northern Samaria. Since the beginning of 2023, 28 people have been killed in terror attacks. The Palestinian Authority has little influence in northern Samaria.
In mid-June, an unusually large bomb buried beneath a road injuring seven soldiers was followed by the launch of the first rocket from Jenin. The IDF carried out a targeted assassination of three terrorists in Samaria with an aerial drone, a tactic not seen in Judea and Samaria in 20 years.
“In the past few hours, we dealt a heavy blow to the terror organizations in Jenin and managed to record impressive operational achievements,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after assessing the situation with senior military officers.
The IDF condemned the use of mosques by terrorists as bases of operation and for cover. “Holy places, such as the Al-Nasr Mosque, should not be used as a front for terrorism,” said the IDF in a statement.
The IDF revealed that the mosque was packed with loads of ammunition, and two underground shafts containing explosive devices, saying, “this is just one example of how terrorists abuse the citizens of Jenin.“
“We will continue operating until the terrorists of Jenin are no longer a threat on the stability of the area,” declared the IDF.
The IDF began “Operation Home and Garden’ against terrorist infrastructure in the Jenin refugee camp Monday morning.
Terrorists there also used UN relief compounds, schools and medical facilities for cover.