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Israel Forces on High Alert Near Gaza after Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader Arrested

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were on high alert and closed roads around the Gaza Strip following the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad leader overnight. They also closed a popular beach in southern Israel and halted train and bus services to the area.

The IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA), and Border Police forces said they carried out numerous “counterterrorism activities in a number of locations in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).”

In a joint statement, the IDF and Border Police announced they had arrested two wanted terror suspects in the Jenin Camp.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander Bassam al-Saadi and his son-in-law/advisor Ashraf Zidan Molmad Aljada were arrested and transferred to security forces for further questioning.

“A number of gunmen shot at the security forces as they entered the city of Jenin, who responded with live fire. Hits were identified,” the statement said. “During the activity, the forces confiscated a handgun, magazines, M-16 bullets, and cash.”

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said 17-year-old Dirar al-Kafrayni was killed in the exchanges of fire. 

Israel has detained Al-Saadi seven times in the past for his role in terrorism as PIJ’s top leader, and he’s served 15 years altogether in Israeli prisons. Two of his sons, who were also part of PIJ, were killed during the Second Intifadah, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The JP quoted the Shin Bet security service (ISA) as saying that Saadi was working hard recently “to restore the Islamic Jihad’s operations, in which he was instrumental in establishing a strong military force in Samaria in general and in Jenin in particular. His presence was a significant factor in radicalizing the organization’s operatives.”

In response to the arrest of Saadi, Islamic Jihad in Gaza issued a statement saying it declared a state of “alertness” and raised its fighters’ “readiness”, the Times of Israel reported.

Early Tuesday morning, the IDF issued a statement saying, “following a situational assessment after terrorist activities were identified with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, it was decided to block off areas and routes adjacent to the Gaza Strip security fence.”

The IDF said that the area had been “closed to civilians due to a direct threat and in order to prevent a possible attack on civilians.”


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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and