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August 24, 2022 5:46 pm

IDF Seizes Assault Rifles, Arrests 14 Palestinian Suspects in Counterterror Raids

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Assault rifles and other weapons seized during a thwarted smuggling attempt near the Dead Sea by the Israeli military on August 23, 2022. Photo: IDF

Fourteen suspects were apprehended during Israeli counter-terrorism raids in the West Bank overnight Tuesday, along with several assault rifles and ammunition.

Israeli forces — including the military, Shin Bet internal security service, and Border Police — carried out operations in Bayt Sahur, Mazra’a al-Qibliya, Silwad, Jayus, and Hebron, security officials said. Three individuals suspected of terrorist activity were taken into custody in the northern West Bank.

In Wadi Bruqin, two suspects were also apprehended while weapons — including three M-16 assault rifles, a hand gun, ammunition, and military equipment — were found. During the operation, soldiers were attacked with Molotov cocktails and explosive devices, and responded with live fire, according to the military. No injuries were reported to Israeli forces. It is unclear if any injuries were sustained on the Palestinian side.

One suspect was additionally apprehended in Jenin, according to the military, which said shots were fired and Molotov cocktails thrown at soldiers, who responded with fire. Assailants from the Jenin area, which the Israeli military has previously described as “a hotspot of terrorism,” have targeted civilians in recent attacks in Bnei BrakTel Aviv, and Elad, killing 11 people and wounding some 20 others.

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Video shared by Palestinian media allegedly showed an explosive device detonating in Jenin, next to where an Israeli soldier stood moments before. Gunfire could be heard in another video, reportedly also from Jenin. The local branch of Palestinian Islamic Jihad — a US-designated terrorist group active in the Gaza Strip and West Bank — claimed its forces clashed with Israeli troops in the vicinity, according to Joe Truzman, an analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Also overnight, five terror suspects were apprehended in Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Qatanna, and Jalazone, all north of Jerusalem. Two others were detained in Nablus, where Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails as troops concluded their activities, the military said.

While operating in Bayt Rima and detaining one suspect, a “violent riot” broke out, according to the military, with rioters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers who responded with riot dispersal means. Video footage of firebombs being hurled at Israeli vehicles by Palestinians in Beit Rima was shared by Palestinian media.

Soldiers also operated in Al-‘Azi, an Arab town in Israel’s southern district. Several individuals hurled blocks at soldiers there, who responded with live fire, the military said.

Also Tuesday, Israeli forces spotted and thwarted a weapons smuggling attempt adjacent to the Dead Sea, confiscating three M-16 assault rifles and three handguns, according to the military.

The Israeli military has engaged in extensive counterterrorism activity in the West Bank in recent months as part of Operation Breakwater, with 26 suspects already detained in overnight raids this Sunday and Monday. The operation was launched in response to a surge in terrorist attacks by Palestinian and Arab Israeli perpetrators that left nearly 70 people killed or injured since March.

Just last month, a total of 235 terror attacks were recorded by the Shin Bet, with the majority occurring within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders and Jerusalem. Three people were injured, including two in stabbing attacks.

The Shin Bet defines terror attacks as stone throwings, firebombs, pipe bombs, small-arms fire, and arson attacks.

Recent Israeli activity in the West Bank against Palestinian Islamic Jihad — the Iran-backed terrorist group that engaged in a violent escalation with Israeli forces earlier this month — has reportedly drawn ire from Egypt, which mediated a truce between the warring parties and allegedly expected a reduction in Israeli operations.

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