Israeli forces killed five Palestinians during an operation they carried out in the city of Jericho in the West Bank, yesterday, according to an Israeli security official, while Hamas confirmed that among the dead were members of its ranks. In a separate statement, the head of the movement’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, described the operation as a “heinous massacre.” He vowed to retaliate, saying it would cause “disaster to the enemy”.
Haniyeh’s threats came at a time when he was supposed to arrive in Cairo at the head of a delegation from the movement, at an Egyptian invitation to discuss calm in the West Bank and not to involve Gaza in any developments. The operation also took place in the midst of American-Egyptian-Jordanian interventions, in order for the Israeli army to reduce its operations in the West Bank, in an attempt to restore calm and prevent tensions from turning into an escalation.
The Israeli operation would impede the mediators’ efforts, especially if Hamas decided to respond. It would also impede efforts to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume security coordination with Israel.
A spokesman for the Israeli army announced that its forces had killed 5 militants and kept their bodies, in an unprecedented procedure. A joint statement with the General Security Service, the Shin Bet, confirmed that Israeli special forces surrounded a “wooden hut” in which the militants were located, killing 5 of them after an armed clash and wounding others. The army published a picture of the perpetrators of the attack in their car on the day it was carried out, and a picture of the gunmen’s guns with the logo of the “Hamas” movement on them. Then the Palestinians published pictures of the hut, whose floor was filled with blood.