November 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Foils Fatah Terror Cell in West Bank  

November 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Foils Fatah Terror Cell in West Bank  

Latest Developments

Israeli forces killed five Palestinian terrorists in an air strike on their West Bank hideout on November 18, foiling attacks they were planning. Palestinian media said the night-time strike took place in Balata, near Nablus. The Israeli military said an unspecified aircraft struck a hideout where Fatah terrorist Muhammad Zahed and several others were planning imminent attacks. Accounts differ on whether the strike was conducted by an Israeli warplane or drone. If Israeli forces used a fighter jet, it would represent an escalation of Israel’s counter-terrorist operations in the West Bank in parallel to the war in Gaza. 

Fatah, the faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, confirmed the strike against its facility. Haaretz reported that according to testimonies from Rafida Hospital in Nablus, four of those killed were members of Fatah’s armed wing — the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Expert Analysis

“At a rate of around twice a week, Israel has been carrying out air strikes in the West Bank during the Gaza war. This was a tactic unheard of in the West Bank for years prior, whose use now attests to Israel’s efforts to prevent the ‘Gaza-fication’ of the West Bank, where hundreds of thousands of its citizens live, who are often exposed to Palestinian attacks. If this Balata strike was indeed carried out by a warplane, rather than a drone or combat helicopter as was the case previously, it would suggest that the terrorists were meeting in a hardened location that required an especially heavy munition to reach.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

 “Israeli soldiers have been operating every night in nearly every major West Bank town against Hamas. This is happening alongside the intense operations in Gaza and Lebanon. Until now, the West Bank has been the dog that didn’t bark. It has not seen organized unrest. But militant activity by Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, portends poorly for continued relative stability in the West Bank.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Forces Find Bomb Factory in Balata

In what appeared to be a related development, Israeli forces uncovered and destroyed a bomb factory in Balata, finding several devices ready to use. 

Israel’s stepped-up West Bank operations have focused on Hamas — the Iran-backed terrorist group that triggered the war in Gaza with its October 7 massacre of 1,200 Israelis. The Israeli military said it has detained around 1,750 terrorist suspects in the West Bank during the six-week-old war, 1,050 of them affiliated with Hamas.

Palestinian Terrorists Storm Israeli Checkpoint Near Jerusalem,” FDD Flash Brief

IDF Battles Palestinian Terrorists in West Bank City of Tulkarm,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas-Led Terrorist Cell Thwarted in West Bank,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Thwarts West Bank Terrorists in Mosque Hideout,” FDD Flash Brief


Palestinian Politics