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IDF floods Samaria with reinforcements in attempt to de-escalate security situation

Following a deadly Palestinian terrorist attack and rioting by Israeli youths, the Israeli military has deployed two back-up battalions as well as Border Police units • Alert level raised for Jerusalem, Gaza border area.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant visits the scene of a shooting attack in Huwara, which claimed the lives of two Israelis, Feb. 27, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant visits the scene of a shooting attack in Huwara, which claimed the lives of two Israelis, Feb. 27, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

The Israel Defense Forces deployed additional forces in Samaria on Monday in an attempt to de-escalate the deteriorating security situation in the area.

“Following an IDF situation assessment, it was decided to reinforce the Judea and Samaria Division with two additional battalions,” the military said in a statement. “Furthermore, as part of the expanding security activity in the city of Nablus, it was decided to increase the security checks on routes leading in and out of the city. IDF, Israel Police and Israel Border Police forces are currently operating in the Shomron [Samaria] Regional Brigade.” 

The move comes a day after a Palestinian gunman murdered two Israeli civilians, brothers in their 20s, as they sat in traffic in Huwara, following which a mob of local Israeli youths went on a rampage through the Palestinian village.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry claimed that Sameh Aqtash, a 37-year-old man, was shot dead by Israeli fire during accompanying riots in Za’tara, south of Huwara.

The IDF said that Aqtash “was not shot by an Israeli soldier.”

The Israeli defense establishment has also raised the level of alert around Jerusalem and near the Gaza Strip. On Sunday night, rioters in Gaza burned tires and launched a disturbance near the border with Israel. 

In an attempt to regain control of the situation, the IDF deployed two additional battalions in Samaria, as well as Border Police units. The forces have spread out around flashpoints, raising their visibility and seeking to prevent further violence, according to the IDF.

“We are sending more forces to try and calm things down,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told JNS on Monday. “We want as many forces on the ground as possible,” he added.

Border Police are also responding to an attempt by hundreds of activists to set up a new outpost at Evyatar, near Tapuach Junction.

In the whole of Judea and Samaria, the IDF currently has some 28 battalions deployed.

One of the two Israelis murdered on Sunday was IDF Staff Sgt. Hallel Menachem Yaniv, 22, who served in the Israeli Navy as a sailor as part of a program for yeshiva students. His brother, Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, 20, was also murdered in the attack.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday held a situation assessment together with leading defense officials.

Gallant instructed security forces to focus operational and intelligence efforts on apprehending the perpetrators of the terrorist attack in Huwara, while taking all measures necessary to prevent any additional attacks.

He also approved the reinforcement of troops in Judea and Samaria, according to a statement from his office.

“The Defense Minister instructed all security elements to act to calm the ground and to preserve law and order in the sector,” said the statement, adding that the IDF has been instructed to provide any necessary assistance to the Israel Police in securing Jerusalem.

On Monday, Gallant visited the scene of the attack.

“We are currently standing at the location where the terror attack took place in Huwara. It was a cruel attack. It is heartbreaking to think of the immense pain of the family that lost both its sons—Hallel and Yagel. It is a terrible thing,” said Gallant.

“I was here with commanders in the IDF. We expect difficult days ahead of us. It may be here in Judea and Samaria, in the Jerusalem area, or in the Gaza region. I gave clear instructions to…ensure readiness to face all threats, reinforce troops and activities on the ground, and most importantly, reach and apprehend the terrorists. We will not tolerate terrorism against Israelis and we will operate in every way necessary,” he added.

Last week, 11 Palestinians were killed, most members of the Lions’ Den terrorist group, in intense gun battles that erupted when Israeli forces came under fire during an arrest operation in Nablus.  

Wednesday’s counter-terror operation in Nablus was launched to apprehend three individuals believed to be planning imminent terror attacks, and who were also suspected of involvement in the Oct. 11 murder of IDF St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch, who was shot from a moving vehicle while securing a civilian march near Shavei Shomron in Samaria.

Israeli forces securing the operation came under fire from Palestinian rooftops, motorbikes and vehicles, the IDF said, adding that it was looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the operation.

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