TAMOUN – Residents of the West Bank village of Tamoun, south of Jenin, are still trying to reel from the raid that took place in their village on Tuesday, when a covert IDF force was discovered in their midst.
The raid saw a force with the Mistaarvim Unit – an elite counter-terrorism force whose members serve in various IDF divisions – cast an operational net stretching 15 buildings in search of two militants.
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One of the two, Islamic Jihad operative Murad Bani Odeh, was apprehended, but the operation sparked a riot that raged on for hours.
Tamoun is home to some 14,000 Palestinians. The village is known as a former Islamic Jihad stronghold.
The riot (Photo: Reuters)
The Palestinians said that the troops were disguised as market vendors. Muhammad Basharat, the local council head, said that the troops entered the village in a van bearing a Palestinian license plate, adding that the men inside it did not arouse anyone's suspicion.
"They surrounded the house from two directions and then stormed it and took Murad. Everything was fine until more troops arrived – that's when the riot began," he said.
According to IDF protocols, a Mistaarvim force is always backed by an auxiliary force.
Basharat's account of the event coincides with that of the military, which said that the force made a tactical decision to reveal its location.
Still, the councilman said that the troops exercised excessive force while dealing with the crowd: "They sicced dogs at them… an army that sics dogs on children is not a moral army."
According to eyewitness accounts, Palestinian police officers stationed nearby refrained from intervening.
Odeh's father, Saliman, told Ynet that the troops interrogated Murad for two hours on sight and searched the family home.
Saliman Odeh (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
The elder Odeh used to work in Israel as a hotel cook, but his work permit was revoked after his son's affiliation with Islamic Jihad was first revealed.
"I say to leaders on both sides – we have to respect each other and live in peace. Without peace there is no quiet."
'PA being cornered'
News of the raid made its way to the office of Marwan Tubasi, Governor of Tubas and Northern Aghwa. He said that every time that IDF troops enter Palestinian villages they are effectively "cornering the Palestinian Authority."
"Once I was told of the raid I tried to contact the District Coordination Office, but no one answered. The Palestinian DCO tried to figure out what was going on from their Israeli counterparts, but they were told it was a military issue and to stay out of it."
Tubasi criticized the raid, saying it was an act of provocation: "This kind of thing only fans the flames and it does nothing to calm tensions."
He added that such raids make Palestinian authorities look weak in the public eye."
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