TULKAREM - IDF
troops reoccupied the West Bank
city of Tulkarem early Wednesday morning and are searching for suspects wanted in connection with Tuesday evening’s suicide bombing in Netanya.
At this time, five senior Islamic Jihad
suspects have been taken into custody, and at least two Palestinians have been killed.
Two IDF soldiers have been lightly wounded and were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva
In addition to the operation in Tulkarem, Israel imposed a fulll closure on the territories, meaning West Bank and Gazan Palestinians will be forbidden from entering Israel until further notice.
'Operation could last hours or days'
IDF Colonel Erez Weiner told Ynet the terrorist who carried out the Netanya bombing Tuesday did not breach the West Bank security fence, but rather, bypassed it.
Regarding the operation in Tulkarem, Weiner said the main objective is to locate Islamic Jihad terrorists.
"We'll continue to operate in Tulkarem as long as necessary, and according to security assessments it can last from several hours to several days," he said.
"We closed off several sites in the city and detained five terror suspects, including those involved in the attack at the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv. Weapons were also seized," Weiner said.
At this time, the forces are also acting to locate the explosive lab that dispatched the car bomb that was detonated in the West Bank Tuesday, he added.
"Aside from minor incidents, we have not met resistance on the part of the Palestinians and we are acting in the intelligence and operational theater," he said.
Tulkarem was transferred to Palestinian Authority control
on March 22, following an Israeli-Palestinian summit in February at which Israel and the Palestinian Authority declared
an end to the al-Aqsa Intifada.
Since then, nine Israeli civilians and a soldier have been murdered and dozens wounded. Islamic Jihad infrastructure in Tulkarem has aided every attack.
IDF officials also said Tulkarem has become a terrorist outpost for Islamic Jihad members to “work” undisturbed, and said the current operation is intended to destroy the organization’s infrastructure in a city has become a safe haven for terrorists.
Following the attack, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz declared a full closure on the West Bank and Gaza "to restore a feeling of security” to Israeli citizens. .
Mofaz also instructed the defense establishment to prepare for an “intensive, targeted operation” to root out Islamic Jihad terrorists and increase operations against the organization, and did not rule out a return to targeted assassinations of senior Jihad leaders.
He said the closure would be open-ended, and would be gradually eased as the security situation allowed.
Palestinians: Israel preventing action
Following Israel’s entry into Tulkarem, senior Palestinian officials have launched a series of public relations initiatives with international media in order to prevent further escalation of the situation .
The Palestinians say they would act strongly against terrorist leaders, but were prevented from doing so by Israeli security measures.