Israeli Forces Clash with Armed Palestinian Militants in Jenin

Masked Palestinian men hold automatic weapons during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin on May 13, 2022. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP) (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images)

This week has been the heaviest period of armed clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces since the uptick in fighting started over one year ago in the West Bank.

On Wednesday morning, Israeli counter-terrorism forces operating in Jenin came under fire by members of Katibat Jenin (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. During the course of the firefight, an Al-Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Aqleh, was caught in the crossfire and killed.

Propaganda video published by Katibat Jenin shows its fighters purportedly targeting Israeli forces during the operation Wednesday morning.

The IDF also published bodycam footage of its forces operating in the city and coming under heavy fire as it attempted to capture wanted militants.

While the amount of footage shared on social media of the fighting is extensive, none offered much evidence to firmly establish who was responsible for killing Aqleh. Israel proposed a joint investigation with the Palestinian authority into the killing, but the offer was rebuffed.

In a separate incident Friday morning, Israeli security forces entered Jenin to arrest Katibat Jenin member Mohammed al-Duba’i. He is believed to have been one of the gunmen who fired on troops during Wednesday morning’s operation.

Like previous encounters in Jenin, Israeli forces came under heavy fire by militants. Video shared on social media showed troops attacking a home where Duba’i was located. Duba’i was eventually captured after several hours of fighting, though a YAMAM counter-terrorism officer, Noam Raz, was shot and killed by militants during the operation.

The IDF and other Israeli security forces generally operate under the cover of darkness, especially in areas where there is a heavy presence of militants, such as Jenin. Both daytime raids on Wednesday and Friday were in part to send a message to militant groups that Israeli forces are willing to operate against them during the day despite the added danger in doing so.

The resurgence of militant activity in the West Bank is likely a response to the increase in Israeli counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank going to back to early 2021. A number of these operations have resulted in the deaths of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: West Bank Militants Reorganize, Establish Joint Operations Room.]

It is likely Israeli forces will be launching another operation in Jenin in the coming days to arrest individuals responsible for the killing of Noam Raz on Friday.

Joe Truzman is a senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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