The incident began when the forces encircled a building in which wanted Palestinians were hiding; gunmen inside proceeded to open fire at the forces and threw explosive devices at them. There were no injuries to the IDF forces, who returned fire. At least three gunmen were injured during the exchange of fire; their condition remains unclear.
'You saved the lives of at least 20 people.' (Archive photo: Reuters)
The army said two Palestinians wanted by the Israeli security establishment were apprehended during the operation; a search conducted after the arrests revealed the explosive belt hidden between garbage cans outside the building. Sappers were dispatched to perform a controlled-detonation of the belt.
Major Meir, the deputy commander of the 101st Paratroopers Battalion, told Ynet, “I said to my troops following the operation ‘you saved the lives of at least 20 people in Netanya’.”
The paratroopers returned to Nablus just three weeks ago after taking part in the Lebanon war.
Major Meir continued: “As part of the constant pressure applied on the terror organizations and terror centers in Nablus we carried out an operation overnight to arrest wanted Palestinians. When the force arrived at the building gunmen hurled explosive devices that luckily did not strike the troops; three gunmen were inured in the ensuing gunfight.
“A major terror attack was thwarted here just before Yom Kippur,” he said. “There are numerous warnings originating from Nablus and we are doing all we can to prevent the attacks.”
IDF forces operating in the West Bank early Wednesday apprehended 19 wanted Palestinians.
A senior Central Command officer told Ynet recently that “Nablus was and remains a West Bank terror hub and there arte repeated attempts to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.”
According to the officer, these attempts have intensified in the aftermath of the war in Lebanon, mainly on the part of Islamic Jihad.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Tuesday that over the past two weeks the security establishment succeeded in preventing 10 suicide attacks planned by terrorists in the West Bank.