After numerous high-profile terror attacks inside Israel, Palestinian militant groups have aggressively responded to recent operations by Israeli security forces inside the West Bank town of Jenin. Over the last several days, militants belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been killed and injured while engaged in clashes with IDF troops in Jenin.
In a video address published on April 8, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades’ spokesperson, Abu Mohammed, stated the group officially started a campaign called “Eye of the Hurricane” to deter stepped-up IDF raids in the West Bank after recent terror attacks in Israel.
The danger posed by militants in the West Bank, specifically Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas has been growing since 2021. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Analysis: The Surge in Militant Activity in the West Bank.]
Israeli forces have killed approximately 31 Palestinians belonging to various militant organizations in the West Bank since the beginning of last year, according to reports. This is a substantial increase in the number of deaths of militants compared to previous years.
A terrorist attack has the potential to significantly boost the image and credibility of a militant organization, much like the attacks in Be’ersheba, Hadera, Benei Berak and Tel Aviv.
After the shooting attack in Tel Aviv on April 7, Ra’ad Hazem, a Palestinian from Jenin that was claimed as a member by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was able to flee the scene undetected by security service personnel. This led to a large manhunt involving Israeli police, the IDF and special units trained in counterterrorism.
The images that played out on live television of hundreds of security personnel looking for a single attacker for more than eight hours in one of Israel’s largest cities was a significant victory for militant factions. By following security personnel door-to-door throughout Israeli neighborhoods, the Israeli media unwittingly boosted the propaganda value of the attack.
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian militant organizations have significantly contributed to the deteriorating security situation in Israel without having fired a single rocket from Gaza. Although, PIJ chief Ziyad Nakhalah’s recent speech may end up changing that.
It’s likely Palestinian militant groups saw an opportunity to respond to the deaths of many of its militants in the West Bank by launching a campaign of terrorism in the wake of the first two high-profile attacks committed by Islamic State-linked militants in late March. Coupled with a campaign of incitement, Palestinian factions created an environment conducive to further acts of terrorism by so-called lone-wolves and its own operatives.
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