Five Palestinians were killed late Wednesday in a clash with a special IDF force in the West Bank town of Tul Karem. The army said senior Islamic Jihad members were among those killed, but the Palestinians said two 14-year-old boys were among the victims.
There were no injuries among IDF troops.
The operation began when soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit surrounded a coffee shop where the suspects, some of them armed, were sitting. Soldiers ordered the men to surrender, firing a warning shot in the air.
Following the warning, the suspects tried to flee, and several people, including Palestinians not initially involved in the exchange, began firing at the IDF troops from several directions. Soldiers returned fire, killing four Palestinians on the spot.
According to the IDF, the Palestinians hurt in the exchange were part of the Islamic Jihad terror infrastructure responsible for the last suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and Netanya.
Terrorists threaten to stage attack in Israel
However, Palestinian sources in Tul Karem said two of the five people killed were 14-year-old boys. Another victim was 18-years-old, they said, and added that only two of those killed were members of terror groups.
According to the Palestinians, the two terrorists are Adal abu Khalil, 26, a senior Islamic Jihad figure, and Majdi Atiya, 20, a member of the Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
Palestinian terror groups have also threatened to retaliate for the Israeli military action, with al-Aqsa Brigades and Islamic Jihad terrorists saying they would unleash a painful blow inside Israel.
Terror warnings on the rise
The Ministry of Defense said there has been a sharp rise in the number of daily terror warnings in recent weeks, with approximately 45 concrete terror warnings per day.
"The warnings include attempts to strike the heart of Israel proper, as well as the West Bank," the source said.
The source also said, “We know there there are possibilities for revenge terror attacks following the Jewish terror attacks in Shfaram and Shilo. Up to now, terror groups restrained themselves in Judea and Samaria, so that they could not be accused of thwarting the Gaza disengagement.
"For the same reason, the Palestinian Authority has operated to keep the calm. In recent days however there has been an increase in warnings of various groups based in the West Bank planning on carrying terror attacks. Some of the IDF forces have returned to dealing terror. This, from now on, is the IDF’s central mission,” said the source.
Ali Waked contributed to the story