The body of Laith Sarour draped in an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades flag, Jenin, West Bank on June 17, 2022. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Israeli Army clashed with militants in Jenin Friday morning during a search for illegal weapons that left three dead and eight injured, according to Israeli reports.

A tweet published by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated shots were fired from a “suspicious vehicle” towards troops operating in Jenin. The source of the fire was engaged and resulted in the recovery of ammunition, two M-16s, a Carlo-style weapon, and body armor from the vehicle. Though, the statement did not mention if anyone was injured or killed in the exchange of gunfire.

Shortly after the firefight, Palestinian social media affiliated with the so-called resistance in Jenin published video of the vehicle targeted by the IDF. The bodies of three passengers inside the car can be seen in a prone position. The Palestinian health ministry later pronounced the passengers deceased after attempts to revive them were unsuccessful.

The first passenger was identified as Laith Sarour, a member of the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

In a statement via their official Telegram channel, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades mourned the death of Sarour saying his killing was a “cowardly assassination” carried out by the “forces of the Zionist enemy army.”

Bara’ Lahlouh and Yousef Salah, both members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a U.S.-designated FTO, were the other passengers identified in the vehicle.

A statement published by Palestinian Islamic Jihad after their deaths said “our mujahideen will not forgive this occupation’s heinous crime, and will not remain silent about its attacks against our people, and the resistance will remain on the lookout, adhering to Jihad as the only option to respond to these violations.”

It’s noteworthy to mention that Hamas also claimed Lahlouh as one of its members and held the military rank of field commander. However, open-source evidence of Lahlouh’s affiliation to Palestinian Islamic Jihad is more convincing compared to Hamas. Bolstering Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s claim on Lahlouh, is his father’s acknowledgement to Palestinian media that his son was a member of the militant organization.

FDD’s Long War Journal has been tracking the rise of militant activity in the West Bank, particularly in Jenin, since early last year. Friday morning’s clashes add to the evidence of the growing danger of militant groups in the West Bank. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Analysis: Understanding the Militant Groups Behind the Violence in the West Bank.]

Adding to the already established Katibat (umbrella organization made up of several militant groups) formations in Jenin and Nablus, there is also some indication of nascent cells in West Bank cities such as Tulkarem and Hebron (al-Khalil). While more open-source evidence is needed to confirm the presence of these newly formed militant cells, if found to be true, it would indicate the spread of organized Palestinian militancy in the West Bank to areas not generally known for it in recent years.

Joe Truzman is a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal.

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Tags: al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, IDF, Israel, Jenin, Katibat Jenin, Palestinian Islamic Jihad





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