The Israel Defense Forces has declared a high alert in Judea and Samaria after riots broke out in the sector over the weekend. The IDF is concerned that Palestinian violence may escalate to include the use of Molotov cocktails and potential stabbing and shooting attacks.
The riots followed the killing of three wanted Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp on the 10th anniversary of the death of Hamas cofounder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Sunday afternoon saw Palestinians and settlers clash near the outpost of Ramat Migron. According to military officials, Palestinians and settlers threw stones at each other. IDF forces scrambled to the scene and were able to disperse the riot, and three settlers were taken in for questioning by security forces.
Several hours later, dozens of Palestinians began throwing stones and hurling Molotov cocktails at security forces stationed near Rachel’s Tomb, on the outskirts of Bethlehem. A similar riot was noted in the nearby al-Aida refugee camp.
One border policeman was lightly injured during the riots and was treated on site. Another border policeman suffered a moderate head wound and was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Security forces were also called to the Palestinian village of Burka on Sunday after local residents reported that settlers from the nearby settlement of Homesh had entered the village, and that one of them had been assaulted by a Palestinian mob. Palestinian security forces extracted the man and handed him over to the Palestinian District Coordination Office, which in turn handed him over to Israeli Civil Administration officers.
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the operation in Jenin, saying, “Over the weekend, our security forces targeted a terrorist who has orchestrated attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. I would like to commend the police SWAT unit, the IDF and the Shin Bet for carrying out this operation as they did and for removing an individual who posed a clear threat to Israeli civilians.
“Our policy is to harm those who seek to harm us. In this case, both objectives were met. We have also been able to uncover a Hamas terror tunnel, and these things only illustrate the importance of proper security arrangements in any future peace deal.”
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and Border Police Commander Amos Yaakov both visited the two members of the police counterterrorism unit who were wounded in the Jenin firefight, during which Hamza Abu al-Hija, a Hamas terrorist defined by Israeli defense officials as a “ticking time bomb,” was killed.
“Your operation was heroic and it saved lives,” Danino told the policemen. “I thank you on behalf of the Israeli public and the entire police force. As your commander I’m very proud of you.”
Earlier on Sunday, thousands of Hamas supporters participated in a rally in the Gaza Strip marking Yassin’s death. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh spoke at the rally and urged the Palestinian people to “support the resistance.”
“We call on our brothers in the West Bank to continue with the brave resistance that started in Jenin. We in Gaza will support you,” he said.
SOURCE: Shlomi Diaz, Daniel Siryoti, Itsik Saban and Shlomo Cesana