June 14, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Senior members of Islamic Jihad’s branch in Jenin killed in a counterterrorism operation

June 14, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Senior members of Islamic Jihad’s branch in Jenin killed in a counterterrorism operation

On Jun. 13, Israeli forces operating in the northern West Bank city of Qabatiya killed “two senior terrorists” belonging to Islamic Jihad’s Katibat Jenin branch, the Israeli military said. The duo were identified as Muhammed Shalabi and Muhammed Fayyad in a statement published by the group.

Katibat Jenin described Muhammed Shalabi and Muhammed Fayyad as members “of the military council of the Jenin Brigade.” The statement acknowledged they died “in an armed clash after the occupation forces surrounded them on the resilient land of Qabatiya.”

Israeli forces launched the raid based on intelligence provided by Aman and the Shin Bet. During the operation, “fighters engaged in an exchange of fire with the wanted persons that included firing shoulder-fired missiles at the building,” the IDF said. Three Palestinian deaths have been reported, including one IDF fighter who was lightly wounded in the operation.

Footage published by a popular Palestinian news channel “Quds News,” shows the building where the two wanted persons had barricaded themselves. The post describes shells targeting the building, which matches the statement provided by the Israeli military that shoulder-fired missiles were used in the operation.

Later that day, hundreds of mourners, including many armed Palestinians from various groups, attended the funerals in Jenin for the three Palestinians killed in the operation.

While Islamic Jihad’s branch in Jenin claimed Shalabi and Fayyad as members of its military council, it’s unlikely that their deaths will significantly disrupt the group’s operations. In fact, since the surge in violence began three years ago, Israel’s strategy has seemingly made a limited impact on the operations of Palestinian terrorist groups. One notable exception is the Nablus-based The Lions’ Den, which has been significantly degraded by targeted operations against its leaders and key operatives. Members of the group have been eliminated or have fled to seek safety with the Palestinian Authority’s security services.

Notwithstanding the prominent role of Katibat Jenin, it is important to recognize that there are numerous branches of established terrorist organizations operating in various parts of the West Bank. Over the past three years, the proliferation of “resistance” groups in the West Bank has been a largely overlooked issue that warrants serious attention. Initially, the Israeli security establishment may have failed to accurately predict the scale of the problem, which involves well-organized and heavily armed cells operating in multiple cities and villages across the West Bank. This oversight has been compounded by Iran’s significant financial backing of these groups, which is aimed at destabilizing the Palestinian Authority and creating chaos on Israel’s doorstep.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

Issues:

Israel Israel at War Jihadism Palestinian Politics