January 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Uncovers Massive Explosives Stash in West Bank Operation

January 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Uncovers Massive Explosives Stash in West Bank Operation

Latest Developments 

Israeli forces uncovered a significant number of explosives and weapons on January 19 after a 45-hour counter-terrorism operation in the West Bank city of Tulkarm. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its troops and other Israeli security agencies found more than 400 explosive devices and seized 27 weapons and other military equipment. The IDF also uncovered and destroyed dozens of explosives hidden in the roads, planted to kill Israeli troops. During their search of approximately 1,000 buildings, the IDF located and destroyed five explosive manufacturing facilities and four surveillance sites used by Palestinian terrorist groups to monitor Israeli forces.

An IDF airstrike during the operation killed eight suspected terrorists during clashes and arrested a further 37 wanted Palestinians, including senior members of armed Palestinian groups. Gunmen seriously wounded an IDF reservist during the operation. Israeli forces later clashed with the gunmen, killing some and arresting others.

Expert Analysis

“Despite Israel focusing on dismantling Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip, the Jewish state understands that the West Bank serves as a secondary base for the terrorist organizations it aims to expel from its borders. Presently, the IDF’s approach seems to involve conducting more frequent but limited operations against these groups. Nevertheless, once the war is over in Gaza, the Israeli political leadership might confront a decision of whether to embark on a broad military operation in the West Bank, if Hamas and other terrorist organizations persist in launching attacks in the area.”— Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

“The threat of terrorism in the West Bank is increasing as Hamas and other extremist groups seek to radicalize Palestinians and construct terrorist infrastructure. It is essential that terrorist groups are unable to increase their foothold in the West Bank and exploit the war in Gaza, to create a new front against Israel. Israel should be supported in its efforts to uproot this emerging clear and present danger in the West Bank.”  Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

Ongoing West Bank Violence

Over the last two and a half years, the West Bank has experienced a level of violence not seen since the Second Intifada (2000-2005). The epicenter of this upheaval primarily resides in the northern West Bank, where terrorist groups such as HamasIslamic Jihad, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have capitalized on the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) inadequacies, exploiting its weakness to consolidate their presence within cities like Jenin, Tulkarm, and Nablus. Israeli forces have acted against terrorists and their infrastructure in the West Bank, filling the vacuum left by the PA’s security forces. 

On January 17, an Israeli airstrike foiled a planned attack by a Palestinian terrorist group based in the West Bank. The attack targeted members of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Fatah-linked terrorist group, who were traveling in a car in the Balata camp. The strike killed five armed individuals, including squad leader Amed Abdullah Abu-Shalal, who was responsible for previous attacks in Jerusalem, including a bombing that injured a soldier. A Shin Bet and IDF investigation revealed the squad had received support and funding from Iranian sources, through connections in the Gaza Strip. 

Palestinian Car-Rammers Strike in Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Palestinian Terrorists Kill Israeli Policewoman in West Bank City,” FDD Flash Brief

Support for Hamas Surges in the West Bank,” FDD Flash Brief


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