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Arrest of senior Islamic Jihad leader sparks Israeli fear of escalation with Gaza

Jerusalem24 – The Israeli army blocked roads and halted rail traffic near the Gaza border fence this morning in preparation for an expected retaliatory attack following the overnight arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank, during an army raid on Jenin refugee camp.

Undercover Israeli special forces arrested Islamic Jihad commander Bassam Al-Saadi overnight on Tuesday in the West Bank city of Jenin along with two other Palestinian men.

17-year-old Dirar Al-Kafrini was shot by Israeli soldiers with live ammunition and killed during the raid, The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed this morning.

Following the news of Al-Saadi’s capture, and the diffusion on socal media of CCTV footage of his arrest, Israel authorities have imposed a lockdown on the Gaza Strip.

Footage from nearby security cameras surfaced and were circulated online, where Al-Saadi was seen being dragged on the ground by soldiers after being injured and set upon by an attack dog.

Israeli authorities completely closed the Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing and the Beit Hanoun/Erez checkpoint to workers in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.

They also returned goods intended for export from the Abu Salem crossing and removed the workers from the only commercial port of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli authorities reportedly allowed ambulances carrying patients in a difficult health condition to cross the Beit Hanoun/Erez checkpoint.

According to the Israeli army spokesperson, Israeli roads near Gaza have been closed over fears of rocket or sniper fire from the Gaza Strip. Farmers working near the border were forbidden from accessing their fields.

The Eshkol Regional Council that borders the coastal enclave decided to cancel summer camps and extracurricular activities.

The Israeli army, Shin Bet and Border Police have arrested and interrogated more than 50 Palestinians suspected of involvement in Palestinian resistance groups in the West Bank over the last few days, triggering widespread armed confrontations that killed 17-year-old Dirar Al-Kafrini and left half a dozen Palestinians hospitalized.

Undercover special forces raided Al-Saadi’s house in a white commercial bus with a Palestinian registration plate, and stormed the house after besieging it from all sides.

62-year-old Sheikh Bassam Ragheb Abdul Rahman Al-Saadi from Jenin refugee camp was born on 23 December 1960 and is one of the most prominent leaders of the Islamic Jihad movement in the occupied West Bank.

Al-Saadi was detained several times in Israeli prisons for his role and activities in the Islamic Jihad movement, where he spent more than a total of 15 years in Israeli detention facilities and prisons.

His wife, Nawal Saeed Suleiman Al-Saadi, was also arrested, where she spent nearly three years in captivity for the same activities as her husband. Their two sons were killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2002.

Egyptian intelligence officials are holding talks with the leaders of the factions in Gaza in order to prevent an escalation and shooting from the Strip into Israeli territory following al-Saadi’s arrest. An Egyptian delegation is reportedly headed to the Strip in order to prevent said escalations.

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