IDF officer and 2 Palestinians killed in shootout near West Bank barrier area
An Israel Defense Forces officer was killed when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire as soldiers tried to apprehend the couple near the West Bank security fence early Wednesday, the army said. The two gunmen, one of whom was a member of the Palestinian Authority security services, were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.
The Israeli military confirmed the officer’s death several hours after the incident and said his family had been notified. He was later identified as Major Bar Falah, 30, deputy commander of the elite Nahal reconnaissance unit.
The fatal incident happened near the scene of another shooting less than 24 hours earlier.
According to the IDF, soldiers using surveillance cameras spotted two suspects in the so-called junction area between the West Bank and Israel, near the Palestinian village of Jalamah, before dawn on Wednesday. Troops sent to investigate flanked the couple and began arrest proceedings.
At that time, “the suspects opened fire on the soldiers,” the army said in a statement. “IDF troops took cover and fired at the suspects, incapacitating them.”
The Palestinian gunmen were named by the Palestinian media as Ahmed Abed and Abdul Rahman Abed, from the village of Kafr Dan near Jenin. Ahmed was an officer in the PA security services.
IDF West Bank Division Commander Brig. General Avi Blot told reporters that the gunmen were first identified more than two hours before the shooting.
He confirmed that the couple, armed with a makeshift Carlo submachine gun and another semi-automatic weapon, had been killed.
Blot said the military suspected they were planning to ambush troops in the area. An armed drone was dispatched to the scene but was not used because the military did not immediately identify that the two suspects were armed, Blot said.
“Unfortunately, it’s not a good morning. We lost an officer last night. I send my condolences to his family and his girlfriend,” military leader Aviv Kohavi said at a military conference on Wednesday morning. .
The exchange came as tensions have risen in the region in recent weeks, with Israeli forces stepping up arrest raids and other counterterrorism efforts, which Palestinians say have inflamed anger.
A senior Israeli official told reporters accompanying Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Germany on Monday that Israel was “strengthening IDF operations in places like Jenin and Nablus.”
On Tuesday morning, a Ministry of Defense engineer vehicle working along the security fence in the same area came under fire. There were no injuries, but the vehicle was damaged.
In June, the Defense Ministry began upgrading a section of the barrier in the northern West Bank after a series of deadly terror attacks were carried out by Palestinians who entered Israel illegally earlier in the year.
Much attention has been paid to the seam zone, a strip of West Bank land on the Israeli side of the fence. In recent months, the IDF has sent thousands of troops to the region to prevent Palestinians from entering Israel illegally.
Jalamah is located next to the security fence just north of Jenin, from where a number of attacks took place earlier in the year and where the Israeli military has focused much of its anti-terrorism campaign. terrorist.
Israeli troops have repeatedly come under fire during nighttime raids in the West Bank. The military launched the operation after a series of deadly attacks that left 19 dead between mid-March and early May.
More than 2,000 suspects have been arrested since the start of the year, according to the Shin Bet security agency.
In raids across the West Bank before dawn on Wednesday, troops detained seven wanted Palestinians and seized several weapons, with violent incidents in some areas, the IDF said.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.