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Two Senior Palestinian Militants Killed in West Bank Raid; Israel Warns Against Retaliation

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Israeli forces during an overnight counterterrorism operation in the West Bank on Nov. 30, 2022. Photo: IDF

Two senior Palestinian militants who were involved in attacks against Israeli forces were killed during an overnight exchange of fire with Israeli troops in the West Bank, the military said Thursday.

One of the men, Muhammad Saadi, was described by the IDF as a high-ranking operative in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, and Israel. He was involved with the kidnapping of Tiran Fero, an Israeli Druze teenager who was critically injured in a car accident near Jenin and brought to a local hospital for emergency treatment, according to Israeli media reports.

The second fatality was identified as Naim Zbeidi, “who was involved in a number of shooting attacks at Israeli forces,” according to the IDF. He was the cousin of the incarcerated Zakaria Zubeidi, a former senior commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades blamed for suicide bombings and shooting attacks.

The caskets of both men were draped with Palestinian Islamic Jihad flags before burial. No Israeli injuries were reported.

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Israeli forces did not arrive at the town where the shootout took place — Wadi Bruqin , located near Jenin — seeking to target the two operatives, who were only killed after opening fire on commandos from the Duvdevan unit, according to security sources cited by Israeli media. Three others were apprehended during the operation.

Israel has since raised its air defense readiness in preparation for possible retaliatory rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian Islamic Jihad is the second-largest faction after Hamas, Kan news reported. Jerusalem has told Hamas through intermediaries in Egypt and Qatar to thwart any firing attempt from PIJ, warning that any violation of Israeli sovereignty will be met harshly.

Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad engaged in a brief escalation of hostilities in early August, after the Israeli military arrested a senior operative of the group in the West Bank. PIJ, which like Hamas receives funding and other support from Iran, launched more than 1,100 rockets at Israel during the three-day conflict, while the IDF targeted the group’s weapons storage, launching, and manufacturing facilities.

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