Jerusalem24 – Two Palestinian gunmen and one Israeli army officer were killed in an exchange of gunfire last night near the Jalameh checkpoint north of the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
After the two Palestinian gunmen, one of whom is a member of the Palestinian military intelligence, were seen approaching the checkpoint, Israeli soldiers were dispatched to the area. The two Palestinians began firing toward the soldiers who fired back, and both were killed in the ensuing exchange.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced the names of the Palestinian gunmen killed in the gunfire exchange as 21-year-old Ahmad Ayman Abed and 23-year-old Abdul Rahman Hani Subhi Abed, from the village of Kfar Dan near Jenin.
A ban on reporting details of the event was issued by the Israeli military to Israeli media soon after the facts this morning, and lifted around 8.30am when the military announced the death of one of its officers.
“Unfortunately, last night we lost an officer who fought Palestinian terrorists in the field,” said the Israeli army chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi.
LTG Aviv Kohavi: “This is yet another expression of the challenges the IDF faces in all arenas and the security it provides for the citizens of Israel at a heavy price sometimes.
I convey my deepest condolences to the family and his girlfriend and we embrace them and hug them.”
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) September 14, 2022
According to Brig. Gen. Avi Bluth, Commander of the Judea and Samaria (the Israeli name for the occupied West Bank) Division, the incident began at 11.31pm on Tuesday when the army observed “two suspects” near the separation barrier close to the Jalameh checkpoint. At this point the army did not know that the two were armed.
The spokesman for the Israeli army said that its forces monitored two Palestinians as they crawled on the ground, about 15 meters away from the security fence and close to a military site after midnight. The exchange of gunfire occurred at around 2.00am when the soldiers were only a few meters from the gunmen. Haaretz reported that the Palestinian gunmen used a Carlo submachine gun.
Initial investigations conducted by the Israeli army claim that the two Palestinian gunmen were able to hide the weapons in their possession. The Israeli soldiers therefore decided to arrest them rather than clash with them, based on the assessment that they were unarmed, but were surprised by heavy gunfire as soon as they approached them.
Later on Wednesday, the Israel forces published the name of the officer killed in the incident – Major Bar Falach, a 30-year-old resident of Netanya. The army added that Falach was deputy commander of the Nahal Brigade’s Special Reconnaissance Unit.
According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli army and the Shin Bet are investigating whether the two gunmen are the same who shot at a military bulldozer in the area yesterday.
Early this morning, Israeli intelligence summoned Hani Sobhi Abed, Abdel Rahman Abed’s father, to the Jalameh checkpoint to identify the bodies of the two Palestinians.
Abed told Al-Quds that the Israeli intelligence officer summoned him without explaining the reason. Abed was detained for an hour and a half before being taken to an area close to the checkpoint and interrogated about his son.
“The officer asked me: Do you want to see him and are you ready for that?” said Abed. “So, I said yes, but he refused to allow me to see him, then he showed me two pictures on a cell phone to identify them. I saw my son Abdel Rahman, and Ahmad, and I noticed bullet wounds in the neck of one of them.”
Abed stated that both his son and Ahmad were not wanted by security forces and were living a normal life, adding that the operation came as a surprise to him.
The West Bank has been witnessing an escalation of violent, nightly raids by the Israeli military on villages and cities from north to south, and where a record number of Palestinians have been both arrested or shot and killed in 2022.
The Israeli military establishment, as reported in the Israeli press, is currently expending a great amount of resources and intelligence in assessing the Palestinian Authority’s intentions in the West Bank. While the PA can still be said to be maintaining security coordination with Israel, the proliferation of weapons particularly in the northern West Bank seems to indicate the PA is not as readily confiscating firearms as it has done in the past.
This involvement of a member of Palestinian security in a planned attack against the Israeli military will be of concern to Israeli authorities.