The commander of the notorious Mista'arvim unit, a special forces counter-terrorist squad specializing in undercover operations, told Ynet on Thursday that the shootout in Jenin on Wednesday, was the most fierce he faced.
For two years now, 48-year-old Chief Superintendent "D." has stood at the head of unit that had participated in hundreds of operations deep inside Palestinian territory.
"The militants rained thousands of rounds of bullets at us, and for the first time used improvised explosive devices (IED)," he said.
Troops entered the Jenin refugee camp to apprehend terror suspects including the brother of the man who killed three Israelis in a terror attack in Tel Aviv last April. In the exchanges of fire, that suspect and three others, were killed.
The forces arrived at a house owned by the wanted man's family and where he was hiding.
"They prepared a death trap for us," D said. "They rigged the entrance to the house, and as soon as they spotted us, they activated four explosive charges of dozens of kilograms one after the other. it was of a magnitude I had never encountered before," he said.
"There was a huge blast, the earth shook under our feet, and the commanding officers who oversaw the entire operation from a distance was sure the entire force was killed," he said.
"The whole operation to take out the wanted terrorists took ten minutes, but the exchanges of fire with camp militants lasted much longer," he said. "In our planning we estimated the terrorists would use IEDs but never expected so many and such powerful devices," he said.
"Fragments from the explosion reached as far as the second circle of troops who were located some 30-40 meters (98-131 feet) from the structure. I was afraid this operation would end with casualties among our force," he said. "The whole building was on fire, and there was smoke everywhere. "Those were tough moments," D. said.
The two wanted Palestinian terrorists, Abed Hazem and Muhammed Alownah were killed by "N." who saw them at a distance of just a couple of meters.
"He identified the two wanted terrorists attempting to flee from the rear of the building, where we were waiting thanks to the intelligence we had, and at the time of the massive explosion - in a split second both of them were killed," he said.
The unit commander spoke admiringly about the courage of 22-year-old Master Sergeant "N." who has been with the undercover unit for the past three years.
"The first instinct when an explosion occurs, is to lie down on the ground and take cover. But "N." remained on his feet," he said. He did not abandon the mission and did not allow the terrorists to escape," he said.
Commander D. said that after the first phase of the operation was over, the forces turned their attention to the other terrorists to surrender. " The plan was to exit the area in armored vehicles that were waiting for us outside the refugee camp, but in Jenin, you know how you will enter - but you never know how will you get out," he said.
"The squads took cover in homes of camp residents, while we were making sure the women and children were escorted to safety unharmed," he said.
"In one of the houses we found the brother of one of the terrorists we had killed - and arrested him," he said. Under heavy fire, the force summoned the military vehicles to pick them up. "the troops crawled like in boot camp to take cover and after three hours of fighting we managed to get to safety," he said.