In a joint operation on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) arrested a member of Hamas in the West Bank village of Deir al-Hatab who is suspected of carrying out an armed attack on an Israeli bus and a taxi near Nablus on Sunday. The arrest of Salman Imran is the third major West Bank operation against the Treasury-sanctioned militant organization in the last two weeks.
The ISA alleged Imran was a “military operative” belonging to Hamas and was a former prisoner arrested for planning assaults against Israelis.
Israeli forces came under fire when it entered the village of Deir al-Hatab to arrest Imran. After arriving at the suspect’s home, Imran barricaded himself inside and fired on troops. The ISA said it was able to persuade Imran to surrender after using “special measures” that included grenades and a bulldozer.
During Imran’s arrest, militants began to fire on Israeli security forces which resulted in the killing of one gunman and the wounding of other armed individuals. Palestinian militant organizations later identified the dead gunmen as ‘Alaa al-Zaal.
After the arrest, Hamas lionized Imran and Zaal saying it saluted the “heroic fighter Salman Imran his brothers from the heroic resistance fighters who excelled in confronting the occupation forces and its settlers.”
It’s clear that Hamas is executing a strategy that involves launching strikes in the West Bank against IDF troops and Israeli civilians. In partnership with Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other militant organizations loyal to the Palestinian resistance, Hamas is fomenting unrest to undermine the Palestinian Authority and further destabilize the West Bank.
Asked by FDD’s Long War Journal whether the IDF is noticing a pattern of increasing Hamas attacks in the West Bank, an Israeli defense official answered in the affirmative, noting that the terrorist group is “working hard.”
Despite having some setbacks due to the arrest of its operatives, Hamas will likely continue a strategy of launching more offensives against Israeli targets in the West Bank. Coupled with calls for violence and praising militants for attacking IDF troops, it’s unlikely the current wave of violence will subside without a dramatic increase in security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.