Photo Credit: IDF
IDF special forces in joint operation with Shin Bet in Palestinian Authority village of Shuveika, near Tulkarem on April 2, 2022

A terrorist cell responsible for multiple recent attacks against Israeli security forces was eliminated in the wee hours of Saturday in a joint IDF-Shin Bet operation that included forces from the undercover elite Duvdevan unit, the IDF said.

Security officials were alerted to an imminent attack, they tracked the terrorists and intercepted the cell just before 1 AM. The terrorists had put Israeli license plates on their vehicle to disguise themselves.

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Four IDF soldiers were wounded in the clash.

One of the IDF special forces, listed in serious condition, was airlifted by helicopter to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.

A second soldier is in fair condition. The other two are in good condition, according to a report by Yediot Achronot military analyst Yossi Yehoshua.

The terror cell eliminated early Saturday was originally linked to the Tanzim faction of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority’s leading faction – headed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, according to a report by IDF Army Radio Galei Tzahal.

The cell operatives were on their way to carry out another attack when they were intercepted and killed in the Palestinian Authority village of Arraba, near Jenin.

Bennett: ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ Thwarted
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a video statement Saturday night that Israel is “in the midst of a joint effort of all the security forces to stop the wave of recent attacks and restore security to Israeli citizens.”

Bennett said the elimination of the terrorist cell earlier in the day “thwarted a ticking time bomb” and predicted there will be more attacks.

“We are working right now to prevent them. Our people act with great bravery, around the clock, in a hostile and violent environment, and I want to send a speedy recovery to the wounded in the operation,” he added. “Terrorism and violence will not uproot us from here. We will get through this difficult period.”

Members of Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad
All three operatives were members of the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, according to a statement issued by the group. PIJ identified the terrorists as members of its “Al Quds (Jerusalem) Brigades,” and named them as Saeb Ava’hra, 30, and Khalil Twalbeh, 24 of Jenin, and Saif Abu Libdeh, 25 of Tulkarem, Israel’s Channel 13 Arab affairs journalist Hezi Simantov reported.

A fourth member of the terror cell was arrested overnight in a special operation near the Palestinian Authority village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem, in the territory of the IDF’s Menashe Brigade, according to the IDF.

An M16 assault weapon and ammunition was seized as well, the IDF said.

“”There is now a desire of every terrorist organization to be prominent in the violent struggle against Israel,” said IDF Lt. Col Alon Eviatar, former Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). “If Fatah decides to enter the battle, we will find ourselves in a very problematic situation.”

Terror Groups Vow Revenge
“The Zionist enemy committed an aggressive crime against three of our heroic mujahideen [warriors] on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan,” PIJ said in a statement issued in response to the terrorists’ deaths.

“As we hold the enemy fully responsible for this crime, we affirm that the blood of our children will not be shed in vain,” PIJ said in its statement. “The mujahideen will continue the jihad and resistance and the fight against the enemy, regardless of the sacrifices.”

One of the terrorists left a will written just prior to the impending, planned an attack, “something big!” to provide justification for a PIJ rocket attack on Israel, Galei Tzahal reported.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, which often allies with PIJ, called the elimination of the terrorist cell a “cowardly assassination” in a statement issued on Saturday.

“The enemy’s policy of killings and assassination against our people in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem will not provide them with the security that they are looking for, nor will they grant them legitimacy on our land,” Hamas said.

The allied Popular Resistance Committees added in its own statement, “Our people will continue their struggle until the occupation is defeated,” and called for “a strong and qualitative response to this heinous crime on every part of our occupied land.”

The Gaza-based Palestinian Mujahideen Movement was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying, ““The assassination of the resistance fighters in Jenin is a Zionist crime that will not go without a response. The blood of the martyrs will remain a fuel that increases the resistance against this criminal enemy.”

The group called on the Palestinian Authority to halt security coordination with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority called on the international community to “provide international protection for the Palestinian people” and warned that Israel “bears the consequences of this dangerous escalation.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.