Israeli forces near Ramallah arrest terror cell suspected of planning imminent attack

Israeli forces on Wednesday arrested several Palestinians suspected of planning attacks in the coming days, as security forces stepped up operations against suspected terrorists in the West Bank.

Police said troops from the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit and the Shin Bet security service surrounded a building in the town of Silwad, northeast of Ramallah, where three suspects were being held.

Police said the suspects failed to respond to calls to surrender, leading troops to fire on the house. The three Palestinians, none of whom were injured, then left the building.

Soldiers also arrested a suspect in the nearby town of Kobar. The four suspects were taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet.

Clashes erupted during the raid in Silwad, with Palestinian officials reporting a man shot dead by Israeli troops. The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry identified him as 20-year-old Omar Alayan.

Video of the clashes showed an Israeli military vehicle crashing into a wall, as Palestinians pelted it with rocks. Other troops then rescued the force from the scene.

The Shin Bet named one of the suspects arrested in Silwad as Maad Hamed, a Hamas member accused of shooting Israeli Malachy Rosenfeld in a 2015 terror attack near Ramallah.

Malachi Rosenfeld (Facebook)

The Shin Bet said Hamed had been held by the Palestinian Authority since the attack, but had recently escaped.

A security service statement said the alleged reason for his escape “was to advance a terrorist attack against Israeli targets in the immediate future.” He added that Silwad’s other suspects were planning terrorist activities with Hamed, but did not give further details.

Officials fear terrorists are planning an attack on Passover Day, which begins Friday evening.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement welcoming Hamed’s arrest.

“Israel’s long arm will reach anyone who raises their hand against us. There is no expiry date for this,” the prime minister said.

Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities have been arrested in raids across the West Bank in recent days. Most activity has been centered around the northern West Bank city of Jenin, although forces also turned their attention to the central West Bank area of ​​Ramallah on Wednesday.

Separately, Channel 13 reported that a Palestinian arrested Wednesday morning in Tulkarem was plotting a terrorist attack during Passover.

The suspect initially fled when the police tried to arrest him, before being shot and taken into custody.

He was arrested as troops carried out raids in the northern West Bank. Clashes erupted in several towns, including Husan, where a Palestinian throwing firebombs was shot dead by Israeli soldiers, the IDF said.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli army said its forces fired on an armed suspect during clashes in which stones and firebombs were thrown at soldiers in the northern town of Beita. West Bank.

But Palestinian officials said Mohammed Assaf, 34, happened to be in the area by car at the time.

Murad Shtaiwe, a Fatah party spokesman, said Assaf, a lawyer, was driving parents to school. They passed through an area where clashes were taking place and Assaf was shot and killed, Shtaiwe said.

“What happened today is a new crime,” he said.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said another 11 people were injured as a result of Israeli military activity in the area. The army said one soldier was lightly injured in the clashes and it arrested 15 people in the raids on Wednesday.

Israel has sent troops to comb through Palestinian towns and villages in recent days, looking for suspects or accomplices linked to recent attacks on Israelis. Last week, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a crowded Tel Aviv bar, killing three people and fleeing, sparking an hours-long manhunt that culminated in his murder by police.

That attack, along with three other attacks elsewhere in Israel in recent weeks, killed 14 people, the deadliest bloodshed against Israelis in years.

Earlier, Israeli forces secured a shrine in Nablus, believed by some to be the tomb of the biblical Joseph, after it was vandalized by Palestinians in recent days.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said the Arab state strongly condemns Israeli operations in the West Bank and what he called excessive force against Palestinians on Wednesday. Hafez urged in a statement to “contain such growing and accelerated developments,” which could lead to further escalation and mutual violence.

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