Photo: Raanan Cohe, IDF's Spokesperson Unit
West Bank raid (Archive)
Photo: Raanan Cohe, IDF's Spokesperson Unit
Photo: AFP
Riots following the incident
Photo: AFP

2 senior Jihad members killed in West Bank

Activists killed in fire exchanges between security forces, Islamic Jihad gunmen in village of Silat al-Hartiyeh west of Jenin. Defense officials say men were behind several terror attacks

Two Islamic Jihad activists, wanted by the Israeli security forces, were killed Wednesday during a joint operation of the Shin Bet, the IDF and an elite police unit in the village of Silat al-Hartiyeh west of Jenin.


Heavy fire exchanges took place between the forces and several gunmen in the course of the operation, but none of the soldiers was injured.


A short while later, a Qassam rocket was fired at the western Negev, causing no injuries. Jihad members stated this was "only the beginning" of the group's revenge.


Special police and Shin Bet forces killed the two men, Salah Sawafta and Hussam Alaysha, both 23, during an arrest raid in the village.


Bullet proof vests, guns and ammunition were found near the bodies.


Security officials said that the two have been involved in terrorist activity throughout recent months.


Sawafta, a resident of the village of Tubas, has been operating with his brother an explosives lab for the purpose of suicide bombings.

The activits' funeral in Silat al-Hartiyeh (Photo: AFP)


'Syrian branch sponsors Jihad'  

Sawafta was incarcerated for several months in a Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho at the beginning of 2006, but after his released returned to northern Samaria and resumed his terrorist involvement as an Islamic Jihad member.


About a month ago security forces thwarted a terror attack planned by group. Sawafta was apparently behind the planning of the attack and also recruited the would-be suicide bomber. He filmed the volunteer ahead of the attack, and instructed him how to operate the explosive belt.


His brother, who is currently detained in Israel, was slated to lead the bomber into Israel.


The second activist, Hussam Alaysha from the village of Sanur, started out as an accomplice to terror attacks and spent two years in an Israel jail, from 2003.


Following his release he renewed his activity in the Islamic Jihad, and was arrested by the PA. After he was freed again, Alaysha cooperated with the organization's members in Jenin, and was involved in several attempts to launch a suicide bombing in Israel.


Security officials say that in recent months the Islamic Jihad has been operating mainly from the villages of Dotan and Qabatiya, sponsored and under the auspices of the group's commander in Syria, and that it was constantly trying to launch attacks in Israel.


Ali Waked contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 12.20.06, 11:38
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