“I admire the heroes… for eliminating the terrorists in Nablus. Whoever harms Israel, we will reach them wherever they are and strike them with a crushing blow, without compromise.”
Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir last week hailed as “heroes” the Israeli forces who were attacked by Palestinian terrorists in Nablus (Shechem) during an arrest operation, resulting in a deadly gun battle.
“I admire the heroes… for eliminating the terrorists in Nablus. Whoever harms Israel, we will reach them wherever they are and strike them with a crushing blow, without compromise,” said Ben-Gvir.
“Our warriors give their lives to protect all of us and for that we owe them thanks,” he said, adding he had agreed with Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai to boost police presence throughout the country.
Helmet cam footage – Yamam operators locating wanted terrorists in the alleys of the Kasbah of Nablus pic.twitter.com/NZI15lDlK8
— Israel Police (@israelpolice) February 22, 2023
Eleven Palestinians were killed and dozens more wounded when Israeli forces were attacked by gunmen after surrounding a building in the kasbah/Old City in the center of Nablus in which three terrorists, the targets of the operation, had holed up, according to the military.
Soldiers surrounded a home where the wanted terrorists, members of the Lions’ Den terrorist group, were located, demanding they turn themselves in. The suspects instead began shooting from the structure, prompting the soldiers to return fire.
All three wanted men were reported killed during the arrest raid.
US ‘Deeply Concerned’
During a press briefing on Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the Biden administration was “extremely concerned” by the levels of violence in Judea and Samaria and across Israel.
“We wish a speedy recovery to those injured and our hearts go out to the families of the innocent bystanders who were killed today. We recognize the very real security concerns facing Israel. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the large number of injuries and the loss of civilian lives,” said Price.
“We had productive conversations in recent days with the parties and U.S. regional partners in support of efforts to prevent further violence. We are deeply concerned that the impact of today’s raid could set back efforts aimed at restoring calm for both Israelis and Palestinians,” he added.
Price was seemingly referring to an informal U.S.-mediated deal between Israel and the Palestinian that saw Ramallah drop a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have demanded an immediate halt to all Israeli building activities in Judea and Samaria.
In return, and to reduce tensions ahead of Ramadan, which will begin in late March, Israel reportedly agreed to curb for several months the approval of additional construction in Judea and Samaria, delay planned demolitions of Palestinian homes built without permits in eastern Jerusalem, halt evictions of Palestinians in illegal housing, and reduce the number of IDF raids in Palestinian cities.
Israel will also significantly curb Jewish access to the Temple Mount during Ramadan.
The Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday it would again turn to the United Nations, with PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh tweeting, “The Palestinian leadership decides to go to the #UN Security Council to request international protection for our Palestinian people in light of the continuing crimes of the occupation.”
Describing the arrest raid in Nablus as a “planned and premeditated criminal act,” he added that “the Palestinian leadership is seriously considering taking steps at all levels in response to this barbaric act.”
Riyad Mansour, the PLO envoy to the United Nations, also demanded that the world body take action following the IDF operation. He said the United Nations was losing credibility by standing by as Palestinians were killed and warned that the disputed territories were a powder keg waiting to go off, which he blamed on Israeli policies.
Israel Continues Counterterrorism Amid Spike in Attacks
Meanwhile, Israel remains engaged in a counter-terrorism offensive amid a wave of Palestinian attacks.
Earlier this month, a terrorist attack in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood claimed the lives of Yaakov Israel Paley, 6, his brother, Asher Menachem Paley, 8, and 20-year-old Alter Shlomo Lederman.
Three days later, Israeli soldier St.-Sgt. Asil Sawaed, 22, died from wounds sustained in a terrorist attack at a checkpoint to Shuafat in northeastern Jerusalem.
In late January, seven people were killed and several others were wounded in a terrorist shooting attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood.