- Following the terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, the Israeli security forces began operating in Judea and Samaria, primarily in the Jenin region, to detain Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and to prevent further attacks. Five Palestinians were killed, three of them operatives in a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist squad en route to carrying out an attack inside Israeli territory.
- The Palestinian Authority (PA) expressed severe criticism. Regarding the situation in Judea and Samaria, PA government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said that on the eve of [the Muslim religious month of] Ramadan, IDF soldiers again and again invaded Palestinian cities, villages, refugee camps and towns to kill and frighten [Palestinians], and to defile the holy sites. He claimed all the activity was part of anti-Palestinian Israeli policy to provoke reactions and “escalate the situation” (Ma’an, April 2, 2022). Rifat Alian, senior Fatah figure in Judea and Samaria, criticized Mahmoud Abbas and the PA, saying that in the face of recent events the PA’s stance was weak and defensive. He praised the position of the Fatah movement in support of “resistance” [i.e., terrorist] activity in all its forms, which, he said, was not linked to the PA’s position (al-Ghad, March 31, 2022).
- Hamas and the PIJ issued strong reactions combined with threats against Israel. The PIJ is apparently trying to ignite the Palestinian street as a response to the killing of three of its operatives in Jenin. Hamas encourages the continuation of clashes and riots in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, but is trying to prevent another round of escalation in the Gaza Strip. According to several media reports, Hamas prevented PIJ operatives from attacking Israel with rocket fire in response to the killing of its operatives.
- Israel’s immediate response to the terrorist attack in Bnei Brak on March 29, 2022, was to deploy security forces in the village of Ya’bad, were terrorist operative Dhia Hamarsha came from. Some of his relatives were detained, as well as some of his friends. IDF forces also began mapping his house in preparation for demolishing it. Local residents began rioting and the forces fired their weapons into the air to disperse them. No casualties were reported (Israeli media, March 30, 2022).
- While the forces were operating in Ya’bad, Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities were also being detained in other locations, including the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, Bethlehem, the village of Qaddum, Ramallah, Marda and other villages south of Bethlehem, among them students, former security prisoners and others (Israeli media, March 30, 2022).
IDF forces in Ya’bad (al-Risalah Twitter account, March 30, 2022)
IDF forces in Ya’bad (IDF spokesman, March 30, 2022)
- On March 31, 2022, an operation as held to locate Palestinians suspected of planning terrorist attacks and assisting the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack in Bnei Brak. It focused on Jenin and the nearby refugee camp. During the operation, which was exceptionally carried out during the day, several dozen Palestinians were detained. Two were killed in clashes with the Israeli security force, and an IDF fighter was wounded. A large quantity of weapons was seized (Israeli media, March 31, 2022).
- The ministry of health in Ramallah reported that two Palestinians had been killed in the refugee camp by IDF fire and 15 had been wounded, three of them seriously. The fatalities were Sanad Abu Atiya, 17, and Yazid al-Saadi, 23. During funeral held for them in Jenin calls were heard for vengeance against Israel. The body of one of the terrorists, apparently al-Saadi, was wrapped for burial in a black PIJ flag. The other body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag (npa.ps, March 31, 2022). The website of the Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing, did not post a formal announcement linking the Palestinians who were killed to the organization.
Right: The two terrorists killed in Jenin, Yazid al-Saadi (left) Sanad Abu Atiya (Shehab Twitter account, March 31, 2022). Left: The mass funeral held in Jenin for the two Palestinians (npa.ps, March 31, 2022).
- Mahmoud Abbas’ office condemned what it called “dangerous Israeli escalation against the Palestinians and their holy sites.” The announcement also related to the Israeli activity in Jenin, calling it “a revolting crime that killed two Palestinians and wounded 14, three of them seriously.” In addition, it mentioned the visit of Israeli Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Temple Mount, calling it “an invasion of al-Aqsa mosque by Jewish extremists protected by the Israeli police” (Wafa, March 31, 2022).
- PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah called for a general mobilization of Jerusalem Brigades operatives in response to the activity of the Israeli security forces in the Jenin refugee camp (PIJ Telegram channel, March 31, 2022).
The Arabeh Junction
- On the night of April 1, 2022, the Israeli security forces detained a squad of PIJ terrorists en route to carry out a shooting attack inside Israeli territory. The squad operatives, who came from Jenin and Tulkarm, had been involved in shooting attacks in the Tulkarm region in the past. During the attempt to halt the terrorists’ vehicle near Arabeh, west of Jenin, the operatives shot at the IDF fighters, who returned fire, killing three Palestinian operatives. An Israeli police commander was critically wounded; three policemen were also wounded. An M-16 assault rifle which had been stolen from the IDF was found in the terrorists’ possession, along with hand grenades. Before leaving to carry out an attack the three had participated in a military display of armed operatives in the Jenin refugee camp, where a poster of Mahmoud Tawalbeh was carried (a senior PIJ terrorist operative who was killed by Israel in 2002) (Filastin al-Yawm, April 2, 2022). On April 2, 2022 a Palestinian armed with an M-16 was detained in Shuweika, near Tulkarm, on suspicion of belonging to the squad (Israeli media, April 2, 2022).
- The bodies of the dead terrorists were removed from the scene by the IDF fighters, causing the Palestinian media to delay the publication of their names and organizational affiliation. Somewhat later the Palestinian media reported they were PIJ military-wing operatives:
- Saib Abahra, 30, from the village of Yamoun, west of Jenin, married and father of four. His mother said that a few days before his death he spoke with her about shahada, death as a martyr for the sake of Allah, and asked her if she wanted him to be the first shaheed in the Abahra clan (QudsN website, April 2, 2022).
- Khalil Tawalbeh, 24, from the Jenin refugee camp, a graduate of the American University in Jenin’s nursing school. His father said he had not been wanted [by Israel] and owned a print shop, which was his source of income (Media-J channel, April 3, 2022).
Two of the cell’s terrorist operatives, Sayif Abu Labda and Saib Abahra in their last picture together, in front of a poster of Mahmoud Tawalbeh (al-Alam, April 2, 2022).
- Sayif Abu Labda, from the Nur-Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm. He was wanted by Israel. His father said that in 2016 and 2020 he had been imprisoned for a year (YouTube, April 2, 2022). According to the Palestinian media, Israel marked him for killing and [allegedly] shot him 52 times (al-Quds, April 3, 2022). His “will” was found when the terrorists’ vehicle was searched. It encouraged his friends to continue carrying out attacks. The Palestinian social networks posted a video of him reading his “will.”
Right: The “will” of Sayif Abu Labda. Left: Sayif Abu Labda before he reads his “will”
(QudsN website, April 2, 2022).
- The Palestinian media reported that “three shaheeds” were killed by an Israeli force (Wafa, April 2, 2022). The reports did not mention that the three were en route to carrying out a terrorist attack. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the event, calling it a “dangerous Israeli escalation.” He said its consequences would be serious and dangerous for the entire region (Sawa, April 2, 2022). PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh condemned the killing, saying that “the perpetrators of the crime and those before it” had to be brought to trial by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He called on the Israeli leadership to stop attacking the Palestinian people, and demanded that Israel turn the bodies over to the PA and release the prisoners (Dunia al-Watan, April 2, 2022).
- The Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing, issued a mourning notice for three operatives killed by Israel near Jenin. It also issued their picture. According to the announcement, the Jerusalem Brigades would continue fulfilling the “national religious duty of resistance and struggle against Israel.” They also swore to continue the mission of “resisting” Israel [i.e., carrying out terrorist attacks] as an expression of the Palestinian people’s desire (Jerusalem Brigades website, April 2, 2022). The PIJ issued an announcement of condolence for the death of “three Palestinians” who belonged to the organization’s military wing and placed responsibility on Israel. The response to the event, according to the announcement, would be appropriate for both the deed and the fact that it had been carried out on the first day of Ramadan (PIJ Telegram channel, April 2, 2022).
Mourning notice issued by the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing
(Jerusalem Brigades website, April 2, 2022)
- PIJ spokesman Tareq Izz al-Din said that killing the three Palestinians was “a serious escalation and considered a declaration of war.” He said the “resistance” would not tolerate such crimes and would not remain idle (Filastin al-Yawm, April 2, 2022).
- On the evening of April 2, 2022, PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah delivered a recorded speech praising the residents of Jenin and the shaheeds. He said twenty years had passed since the battle in Jenin [Operation Defensive Shield] but the fight would continue thanks to “the heroism of the Palestinian people and its fighters.” He said the determination of the West Bank residents was the best example of heroism. He called on them to continue the path of the shaheeds with faith that Allah would bring victory (Jerusalem Brigades’ Telegram channel, April 2, 2022).
Ziyad al-Nakhalah delivers a recorded speech (Filastin al-Yawm, April 2, 2022)
- The PIJ’s military-terrorist wing in the Gaza Strip held a series of military displays to mark the 20th anniversary of Operation Defensive Shield, which were exploited to show solidary and support for Jenin. The rallies were attended by masked terrorist operatives who held pictures of the three terrorists who were killed as well as a picture of Dhia Hamarsha, who carried out the shooting attack in Bnei Brak. Ahmed al-Mudallal, a senior PIJ figure in the Gaza Strip, who attended the military display in Rafah, said the blood of the three shaheeds would ignite the next intifada. He said they were separated from Israel with rockets, guns, rocks and knives, and the war [against Israel] continued in every arena. He called Israel “a stupid enemy” because it thought that by killing three operatives and others in Jenin it had gotten rid of the “resistance” and the Jerusalem Brigades (Filastin al-Yawm, April 2, 2022).
The military display in Rafah (Filastin al-Yawm, April 3, 2022)
The military display in Rafah. Palestinian terrorist Dhia Hamarsha is second from the left
(yellow circle) (Filastin al-Yawm, April 3, 2022)
- Jerusalem Brigades spokesman Abu Hamza praised the courage and combat of the fighters of the Jerusalem Brigades’ Jenin Battalion, who were like “a wall in front of Israel.” He also praised the shooting attacks in “Tel Aviv” [i.e., Bnei Brak], Beersheba and Hadera, calling them proof the “resistance” was alive and well (Filastin al-Yawm, April 2, 2022).
- Hamas issued an announcement expressing its condolences for the death of the three “Palestinians,” claiming that Israel’s “policy of killing” the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Jerusalem would not give it security or the legitimacy to rule, but would only increase the strength and determination of the Palestinian people to “resist” [i.e., attack] in order to avenge the blood of the shaheeds and defend their land and holy sites (al-Aqsa, April 2, 2022).
Ramadan in “Palestine” vs Ramadan in the rest of the Muslim world. The Arabic reads, “The death of three Palestinians in an exchange of fire with the occupation in Jenin. The Muslim world vs Palestine…” (Alaa’ al-Laqta’s Facebook page, April 2, 2022)
Palestinian Terrorist Organization Activity
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, spoke with Ziyad al-Nakhalah regarding the recent escalation and the events in Jenin. They agreed to continue increasing bilateral coordination to “struggle” against Israel and defend the Palestinian people and their rights (Hamas website, April 2, 2022).
- The Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas and the PIJ, held a meeting to discuss developments in Judea and Samaria. They praised the terrorists who had been killed and the Palestinian people, and encouraged the continuation of “resistance” against Israel. The organizations expressed willingness to continue cooperating in all arenas to serve the interests of the Palestinian people.
- According to the daily al-Quds al-Arabi, in light of the tension, the various negotiators increased their contacts with the Palestinian organizations to restore calm to the West Bank and Jerusalem, and to keep the confrontation from spreading to the Gaza Strip. According to the report, the organizations did not agree to a lull, claiming many Palestinians were planning to carry out attacks during Ramadan (al-Quds al-Arabi, April 3, 2022).
- The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar quoted “Palestinian sources” which said that following Israel’s warning to the Palestinian organizations not to fire rockets into Israeli territory from the strip, on April 3, 2022, there were contacts between the Palestinian organizations and the Egyptian mediators. The Arabic media quoted Israeli reports that Hamas asked the PIJ not to fire rockets at Israel after three of its operatives had been killed in Jenin. Senior PIJ figure Ahmed al-Mudallal said all options were open to defend al-Aqsa mosque and the holy places, however he also stressed that the residents of east Jerusalem were capable of preventing Jews from entering al-Aqsa mosque [i.e., without assistance from the Gaza Strip] (Filastin al-Yawm, April 3, 2022)
 For further information, see the April 5, 2022, bulletin, "The deadly terrorist attack in Bnei Brak that killed five people was carried out by a Palestinian from the Jenin region." ↑