Israeli security forces killed three Palestinian terrorists during gun battles in the northern Samaria town of Jenin early Saturday morning. Among the dead was the objective of the raid, Hamza Abu al-Hija (22), one of the most wanted terrorist leaders in the so-called “West Bank.”
Around 15,000 people attended the weekend funeral for the three young men. Three terror groups issued a joint statement on the occasion, vowing that “these martyrs have not shed their blood in vain.” Israeli forces were placed on high alert for possible reprisals.
According to Israeli security officials, Hamza Abu al-Hija was a “ticking time bomb.” With influence in both the West Bank and Gaza, he was behind numerous terrorist attacks against Israelis. He was believed to be planning a large attack against Jewish settlers and soldiers in the near future.
There had been several previous failed attempts to arrest Abu al-Hija, including at least one by the Palestinian Authority. But Israel was unwilling to let him simply operate freely, and set its best to the task of monitoring Abu al-Hija’s movements and pouncing at the right time.
When that time came, the Israelis reportedly first sent a dog into Abu al-Hija’s house. The animal was promptly shot. The terror boss then ran from the house, opening fire with a machine gun as he did so. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded before their comrades fatally shot Abu al-Hija.
The raid resulted in serious riots in Jenin, long a hotspot of Palestinian terrorist activity. In the ensuing riots, Israeli soldiers reported coming under attack by machine gun fire, explosives, firebombs and stones. Two more Palestinians were killed during the clashes and six were injured.
Hamza Abu al-Hija was the son of Jamal Abu al-Hija, the head of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank. In 2002 the elder Abu al-Hija was captured by Israel and sentenced to life in prison.
Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and even Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah faction all vowed to take revenge on Israel over the Jenin raid.