Israeli forces last night began to withdraw from Jenin following two days of intense fighting against the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in the northern Samaria town. During the last few hours of maneuvers, Sgt. David Yehuda Yitzchak was fatally shot in the chest.
The military said Yitzchak, 23, a non-commissioned officer from the Egoz commando unit, received treatment at the scene before being evacuated to an Israeli hospital, where he was declared dead.
He was a resident of Beit El, an Israeli town north of Jerusalem in the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria.
“The IDF sends its heartfelt condolences to the family and will continue to support them,” said the military.
“We mourn the loss of David Yehudah Yitzchak HY”D, the brave IDF soldier killed in battle. David was raised in Beit-El and was a respected non-commissioned officer in the elite Egoz commando unit. We share in the tremendous grief and send a warm embrace to his family, community, and residents of Beit-El,” Gush Etzion Regional Council Mayor and Yesha Council Chairman Shlomo Ne’eman said.
Withdrawal under fire
Sporadic clashes erupted between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli troops into the early hours of Wednesday, with an IDF spokesman saying that the forces would remain “prepared for whatever is required.”
During the initial withdrawal, the military conducted an airstrike targeting Palestinian gunmen located at a cemetery on the outskirts of Jenin.
The terrorists “posed a threat to security forces as they left the [Jenin] refugee camp,” said the IDF.
A successful operation
The military launched the major counterterror operation in Jenin in the early hours of Monday, including the entry into the Samaria city of significant ground forces.
Over 1,000 IDF troops participated in the campaign, which is believed to be the largest deployment in Judea and Samaria in two decades.
The military said on Tuesday its forces had killed 18 Palestinians, all of them terrorists.
Israeli troops arrested well over 100 wanted terror suspects.
During nearly 48 hours of fighting, IDF troops located and demolished at least eight weapon storage sites, six bomb-making labs, three “war rooms” and other terror assets.
The IDF also carried out some 20 drone strikes against various targets.
“I congratulate our courageous fighters who destroyed many terrorist infrastructures in Jenin and thus prevented many terror attacks,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit on Tuesday to the Salem checkpoint, located some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Jenin.
“At this moment, we are completing the mission, and I can say our widescale operation in Jenin is not a one-time action,” he added.
No safe place for terrorists
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday that the Jenin operation had restored Israel’s freedom to act against terrorist groups throughout Judea and Samaria.
“It will take a little more time until we reach a situation where, as a result of having engaged militarily in Jenin in recent days, we will be able to move anywhere, in the refugee camp or anywhere else, with a team of soldiers, and not with an entire brigade,” Gallant said.
The comments echoed those of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, who earlier Tuesday said that Israeli forces now “know how to enter where we want, when we need and when we choose.”
“There will be no safe place for terrorists — and whoever escaped today, we will make sure to find him tomorrow,” said Halevi.
Hamas celebrates “victory”
Despite the devastating blow to the terrorist infrastructure in Jenin, Hamas and Islamic Jihad took to social media to declare “victory” as the Israeli troops pulled out.
The confirmed death of Sgt. Yitzchak was all they needed to justify that ridiculous claim to their followers and supporters.
Israel fights against an enemy that has an entirely different viewpoint and set of values. The number of casualties they suffer is only tactically useful for PR purposes. Otherwise they don’t care how many they lose or how much their infrastructure is damaged.
But they know that Israel is different, that a single death is devastating to the Jewish state, and so they celebrate it as “victory.”
Gaza rockets fired at southern Israel
To punctuate the “victory” in Jenin, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired five rockets at southern Israel in the early hours of Wednesday.
Sirens blared in the southern city of Sderot and surrounding areas.
The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted all of the rockets, according to the military.
There were no reports of injuries or damage in the attack.
The rockets were the first fired at the Jewish state since Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group reached a ceasefire deal to end five days of fighting in May.
During that conflict, PIJ launched more than 1,250 rockets at Israel, to which the IDF responded by striking nearly 400 terror assets in Gaza.
Israel bombs Gaza
The Israeli military struck Hamas weapons-making facilities in the Gaza Strip overnight Tuesday, in response to a barrage of rockets launched from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
“IDF fighter jets struck an underground weapons manufacturing facility overnight used by the Hamas terrorist organization, as well as a raw materials manufacturing facility for rockets belonging to Hamas in Gaza,” the IDF tweeted.
“The IDF holds Hamas responsible for all activities emanating from Gaza and will face the consequences of security violations against Israel,” it added.
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