Israel Braces for Gaza Retaliation Following Clashes

Hamodia Staff

YERUSHALAYIM – Israeli authorities are bracing for retaliatory Palestinian attacks following intense clashes in Jenin on Thursday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi met Thursday afternoon to assess the situation.

In a statement released through his office, “Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that while Israel is not seeking escalation, he has instructed the security forces to prepare for all scenarios in the various sectors in order to safeguard the citizens of Israel.”

In a separate message to government ministers, the Prime Minister’s Office said that there are “no cities of refuge for terrorists.”

“Everywhere the Palestinian Authority doesn’t fulfill its authority, we’ll be forced to enter and foil terror attacks,” the message continues. The PMO also stresses that IDF forces were fired on first, and made every effort to avoid hitting innocent civilians.

Halevi has instructed the IDF to “increase preparedness and continue counterterrorism activities as needed,” the IDF said, following the assessment he held with top military officials.

On Thursday morning, undercover Israeli forces entered the Jenin refugee camp in an unusual daylight raid to arrest three local Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders who were planning “significant” terror attacks. Clashes broke out with Palestinians firing guns and throwing Molotov cocktails and stones. The PIJ said its members also detonated a number of explosives around the camp.

Nine Palestinians, mostly members of the terror group, were killed during the clashes.

A senior IDF officer said the forces had foiled a “ticking time bomb” after receiving “accurate intelligence” from the Shin Bet security agency about the cell’s hideout apartment in the camp.

Gunfire, stone throwing and tire burnings spread to other areas of Yehudah and Shomron. In one attack in the outskirts of Ramallah, an IDF soldier was lightly wounded by Palestinian gunfire.

A spokesman for Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza said the terror group is “ready and willing for the next confrontation.”

Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’s deputy leader, insisted that Israel “will pay the price for the Jenin massacre.”

According to Palestinian media reports, Egyptian, Qatari and U.N. officials are mediating between the Gaza terror groups in a bid to calm tensions.

Tor Wennesland, a U.N. mediator, said on social media that he was “actively engaged with Israeli and Palestinian authorities to de-escalate tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict.”

A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Jenin killings as a “massacre … conducted amid suspicious international silence,” according to Reuters.

Abbas announced three days of mourning and called an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to discuss the events in Jenin.

Meanwhile, The United States was seeking information from Israel about the bloodshed in Jenin, the top State Department official for the Middle East, Barbara Leaf, said.

Briefing reporters by phone ahead of a trip to the region by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Leaf said U.S. officials had been seeking understanding of the incident and urging de-escalation, describing the civilian casualties as “regrettable,” according to Reuters.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday strongly condemned Israeli actions, state news agency SPA reported.

The Saudi foreign ministry said it denounced what it described as a “storming of the city” by Israeli forces that led to “the fall of a number of victims.”

Kuwait and Oman also condemned the attack, their state news agencies said on Thursday.

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