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Three Palestinian terrorists killed in drone strike in occupied West Bank

This is the first targeted Israeli strike in the West Bank since the end of the second intifada, nearly two decades ago

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission. Sign up here to get Haaretz’s free Daily Brief newsletter delivered to your inbox.

An Israeli army drone launched an airstrike on Wednesday evening against Palestinian militants near Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

According to the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service, the attack was launched against “terror targets traveling in a vehicle near the Jalameh crossing. These targets are behind several shooting attacks in the West Bank.”

This is the first targeted aerial strike in the West Bank in which Palestinian terror suspects were killed since the end of the second intifada nearly two decades ago.

A Palestinian medical source told Haaretz that three bodies were found in the vehicle. The Israeli army later confirmed this report.

The Islamic Jihad militant group faction in Jenin named the dead as Suhaib al-Ghoul, 27, Muhammad Awais, 28, and Ashraf a-Saadi, 17. Al-Ghoul and a-Saadi were members of Islamic Jihad’s military wing while Awais was a key operative in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Bridge.

Islamic Jihad also said that “Israel will bear responsibility for their stupid decision to strike these operatives with drones and [subsequently] keep their bodies.”

Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant commended security forces for the attack, saying “We’ll take an attacking and proactive approach against terror, we’ll use all means at our disposal and exact the heaviest price from every terrorist.”

A Hamas spokesperson responded to Israel’s targeted assassinations, saying that it was a “dangerous escalation that won’t pass without a response from the Palestinian people or resistance forces.”

Although surveillance drones are commonplace, the strike by an Elbit Hermes drone, which followed a rare use of helicopter gunships in the operation in Jenin, was the first by the Israeli military in the West Bank since 2006, the IDF said.

“This is about removing a threat – we identified a vehicle shooting at the crossing and removed the threat,” IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a tweet.

This comes amid a sharp increase in violence in recent days across the West Bank.

On Monday, heavy clashes erupted as Israeli security forces raided the Jenin and exchanged gunfire with Palestinian militants. Six Palestinians were killed – including a 15-year-old – and 91 wounded, including 23 in critical or serious condition, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Seven Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Border Police officers were reported wounded.

On Tuesday, four Israelis were killed and another four were wounded in a shooting near a gas station in the central West Bank settlement of Eli.

Dozens of Jewish settlers, some armed, set fire to houses and vehicles in the Palestinian West Bank town of Turmus Aya on Wednesday, after which clashes broke out between security forces and local Palestinians. The Palestinian Health Ministry announced that one person, 27-year-old Omar Ketin, had been shot dead.

 

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