JERUSALEM, Israel – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and other security personnel raided a suspected terrorist hideout in Jericho early Monday morning and engaged in a shootout with members of a Hamas terror cell, killing 5.
The goal of the Israeli mission was to deal with the Hamas perpetrators of a planned terrorist attack January 28th in the Judean desert community of Vered Yeriho. Two gunmen wearing vests entered a restaurant, where some 30 customers were dining, in an effort to attack the patrons there, but their weapon jammed and they fled to Jericho. The IDF and the Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, in a joint statement, called the thwarted attack a planned "mass murder spree."
Sunday's raid at the Aqabat Jabr camp prompted the terror group to fire on Israeli soldiers, resulting in the deaths of five men, all described as members of the armed wing of Hamas. No Israelis were reported injured in the operation. At least 3 Palestinians were reported wounded by Palestinian officials.
The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the raid a "crime," and urged the U.S. to rein in the Israeli counter-terror operations, which have been going on for months under the governments of both Prime Ministers Yair Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel's National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, welcomed reports from the raid, saying "a terrorist is a mortal and anyone who tries to harm the citizens of Israel knows that he will pay a heavy price for his activities and our security forces will reach him wherever he hides. The Israeli government will wage a stubborn and uncompromising war against terrorism and with God's help we will bring security to the citizens of Israel."
Hamas Spokesman Hazem Qassem threatened retaliation, saying, “Our people and their resistance will not delay in responding to this crime."
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