On Thursday, the Israeli military in partnership with other affiliated security agencies launched an operation in Jenin to capture Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander Farouk Salameh who was wanted for his involvement in the shooting death of an Israeli counter-terrorism officer earlier this year.
According to a joint Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and IDF statement, Israeli forces raided a building where they suspected Salameh was located. An armed clash ensued and Salameh fled the scene. During the search for his whereabouts, Salameh was found and subsequently killed by gunfire after he drew his weapon on Israeli forces.
Following the Israeli military operation, PIJ’s branch in Jenin published a statement mourning the death of Salameh.
“We announce in the Jenin Saraya al-Quds Battalion, that the assassination of the great fighter Farouk Salameh is a cowardly criminal operation and we will not stand idly by, and that the victorious Saraya Battalion will not remain silent for long.”
Salameh was also suspected of cooperating with the Nablus-based Lions’ Den in “order to carry out further attacks,” according to the Israeli military’s statement.
Speaking to FDD’s Long War Journal, an Israeli military official added that Salameh’s affiliation with the Lions’ Den included “encouraging their activity” and that he “conspired to secure them funding.”
In addition to the killing of Salemeh, Palestinian social media users claimed PIJ member Tawfiq al-Shalabi was arrested during the Israeli military operation.
Thursday’s raid in Jenin is part of a broad effort by the Israeli defense establishment to curb rise of militant activity in the West Bank that has been ongoing since last year. Militant organizations such as the Lions’ Den, PIJ and Hamas have become a major threat in the West Bank following an increase in shooting attacks against IDF personnel and Israeli communities.
Though in recent weeks, Israeli forces have made significant achievements against these organizations. On Oct. 24, Lions’ Den leader Wadee al-Houh was killed during an Israeli forces’ operation in Jenin. Several days later, senior Hamas member Muhammed Abu Khalifa was reportedly arrested by the IDF in Jenin.
The fallout from these Israeli military operations have not only led to the elimination and arrest of militant leaders, but also the surrender of other senior militants. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Analysis: The Lions’ Den and the Future of Militant Activity in the West Bank.]
Shortly after 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, four rockets were launched from Gaza towards southern Israel. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system and the others failed to reach Israeli territory. While PIJ did not officially claim responsibility, the attack was likely ordered by the group’s leadership as a message to Israel that the killing of commander Salameh had crossed a red line.
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