February 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Raids Hamas Cell Responsible for Restaurant Attack

February 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Raids Hamas Cell Responsible for Restaurant Attack

Latest Developments​

Israeli forces killed at least five Hamas gunmen and detained a suspected Hamas operative on Monday during a raid on the normally quiet West Bank town of Aqabat Jabr near Jericho. The Israelis sought to capture the terrorist cell behind an attack on a restaurant along a major highway that connects Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. In the January 28 incident, two terrorists approached an Israeli-owned restaurant at Almog Junction on Road 1, then opened fire at the restaurant’s 30 customers. The terrorists managed only one shot before their assault rifle malfunctioned and forced the assailants to flee, likely sparing Israel another massacre barely a day after a pistol-wielding Palestinian murdered seven people outside a Jerusalem synagogue.

Expert Analysis

“The restaurant attack suggests that an almost year-long surge of Palestinian terrorism focused in the northern West Bank may be spreading to Israel’s main artery between its capital and communities in the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley. This would mark a major escalation, and the Israelis have clearly moved fast to tamp it down. The big question is whether the restaurant was a one-off attack by a now-eliminated cell of Jericho terrorists or if there is more widespread support in the town for taking up arms.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Hamas is predictably thundering about Jericho’s death toll and the need to avenge it. No doubt the Palestinians would like to see this incident resonate internationally, like the January 26 Israeli raid on Jenin, to dampen some foreign criticism of their terrorist attacks. But it should be clear that in Jericho, as in Jenin, the counter-terrorist objectives were urgent and necessary to save Israeli lives.” Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

IDF Conducted Operations to Clear Hamas Cell

On Saturday, Israeli forces went into Aqabat Jabr to arrest the suspects in the January 28 attack. According to Palestinian media, 13 Palestinians were injured during the ensuing gunfight. While the operation failed to apprehend the restaurant shooting suspects, the IDF detained 18 suspects for questioning, six of whom it arrested.

Prompted by new intelligence on Monday, a combined force including the Israel Defense Forces’ Lions of the Jordan Valley Battalion — in which male and female infantry soldiers serve side by side — re-entered Aqabat Jabr, apparently crushing the local Hamas network behind the restaurant attack.

In the aftermath of the Israeli operations, Hamas issued a statement acknowledging five of its members had been killed.

Related Analysis

Mapping Terrorism in the West Bank,” by Joe Truzman

Abbas Blames Israel for Rise in Terrorism,” FDD Flash Brief

Israeli Forces Eliminate Terror Cell Planning Major Attacks,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Palestinian Politics