Israel on Saturday night struck a “terror route” under a mosque in the Jenin refugee camp, killing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members planning an “imminent terror attack.”
The terror cell was using the Al-Ansar mosque as an operations room to plan and carry out acts of terror, including an Oct. 14 attack in which a bomb exploded close to Israeli soldiers operating near the security barrier in northern Samaria, the IDF said on Sunday. No soldiers were hurt in the blast.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said two people were killed and several others injured in the strike.
It is believed to be the first strike carried out by an Israeli fighter jet in Judea or Samaria in more than two decades.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the terror cell that Israel targeted in Jenin overnight was a “ticking time bomb” planning a “murderous terror attack inside Israel,” and was it therefore struck while hiding in a tunnel under a mosque.
“Hamas desecrates holy places in the hope that we will attack them. They use the symbols of Islam as a human shield,” he added.
During a two-day incursion in the Jenin refugee camp in July, Israeli forces uncovered weapons and military gear in the Al-Ansar mosque. They also found a tunnel leading to a nearby kindergarten.
Lt. Col. M., who was involved in the operation, said that “the excavations carried out in the mosque turned it into a fortified target.”
Established in 1953, the U.N.-administered camp is often referred to by Palestinians as the “Martyr’s Capital.” Between 2000 and 2003, during the Second Intifada, at least 28 suicide bombers came from the Jenin camp.
In mid-June, an unusually large roadside bomb wounded seven Israeli soldiers during a counterterror operation in Jenin. The incident was followed by the launch of the first rocket from the city.
Earlier on Saturday, Israeli forces raided the Samaria home of top Hamas commander Saleh al-Arouri, detaining several of his relatives.
Al-Arouri, the commander of Hamas operations in Judea in Samaria, as well as the deputy of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, is currently based in Lebanon.
Israeli forces entered al-Arouri’s home in the village of Arura north of Ramallah at dawn and arrested more than 20 people, including one of his brothers and nine of his nephews, according to AFP.
Israeli forces reportedly raised a banner over the home showing al-Arouri on the backdrop of an Israeli flag. On it appeared the caption: “This was the house of Saleh al-Arouri and has become the headquarters of Abu al-Nimer.”
Abu al-Nimer is reportedly an alias for the Israeli intelligence officer responsible for the area.
The IDF has arrested 727 Palestinian terrorists across Judea and Samaria since the start of “Operation Swords of Iron” on Oct. 7.
Out of the 727 Palestinian terrorists arrested, more than 480 are affiliated with Hamas, including 27 Hamas members arrested overnight Sunday, the army said.
Over the past two weeks, there have been several clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and several attempted terrorist attacks.