Israeli Raid in Nablus

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Jess Diez,
Director of Educational Programs & Managing Editor

February 28, 2023

On Wednesday, February 22, Israeli forces entered Nablus, a city in the West Bank, to arrest multiple terrorist suspects, including a member of the Lion’s Den armed group. In an attempt to “flush” suspects out of a locked building, Israeli forces began firing missiles at the structure, invoking a gun battle and, subsequently, eleven Palestinian casualties. Despite the reactionary peace talks, held in Jordan, that ensued, violence from Israelis and Palestinians re-surged on Sunday, heightening concern over the conflict yet again.

While Palestinians suffered several fatalities and over 100 injuries, the Israeli army noted no internal deaths. Explained in Asharq Al-Awsat, “the Israeli army said the raid targeted militant suspects ‘in a hideout apartment’ accused of shootings in the West Bank. It added troops came under live fire but suffered no casualties.”

Israeli forces achieved their operational ambitions against the intended suspects in what many have identified as a massacre. Written in Ahram, “the Israeli military said that all three targeted suspects in the Nablus operation were ‘neutralised,’ either while fleeing the building or in an ‘exchange of fire.’‘Armed suspects shot heavily toward the forces, who responded with live fire,’ said the military, adding that rocks, explosive devices and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the troops.”

In the aftermath of the raid, the Lion’s Den group reiterated its dissent against West Bank occupation and its distrust towards collaborating with the global community. Cited in Tehran Times, “amid the new escalation, the Lions’ Den faction declared that ‘we will respond to the occupation.’ In a statement posted on social media, it said ‘with the size of the pain that afflicted Nablus, the occupation will swallow twice the pain, and they will know that our fighters and the fighters of the honorable groups in Nablus will not take a step back’…The group stressed that ‘pleading with the international community is nothing but a mirage, a waste of time, and a waste of dignity.’”

Many Arab countries have condemned the operation, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, each of whom has signed a normalization agreement with Israel. Highlighted in Israel National News: ‘We condemn the Israeli attack on Nablus and send our condolences to the Palestinian people. The escalation must be stopped and steps that will worsen tensions and instability in the region must be avoided,’ read the statement on behalf of the countries.” 

On Sunday, days after the violence, Jordan hosted Israeli and Palestinian delegations to participate in de-escalation talks. During the meeting, Israel agreed to stop the settler outposts authorizations for multiple months. Explained in Arab News, “Israel and Palestinian officials pledged at a meeting in Jordan on Sunday to de-escalate surging violence. The talks brought together top Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs for the first time in many years, officials said, and aimed to restore calm in Israel, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip…Israel committed to stop authorization of any settler outposts in the occupied West Bank for six months during the meeting. In a joint statement at the end of the meeting in Aqaba, Israel and Palestinian officials said they would work closely to prevent ‘further violence” and ‘reaffirmed the necessity of committing to de-escalation on the ground.’”

Two Israelis were killed in the West Bank during a separate incident on Sunday, further driving regional contention. As a response, explained in Haaretz, “a large group of settlers entered the West Bank town of Hawara and began throwing rocks at houses and setting trees and cars in the village on fire. 36 houses have been burned along with 15 cars and 9 families have been evacuated.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in turn, issued a statement directing Israelis not to take matters in their own hands. Quoted in the Times of Israel, Netanyahu said: ‘I am asking, while blood is boiling and winds are high — don’t take the law into your hands,’ he adds. ‘I ask that you allow the IDF and security forces to do their work.’”
Sunday’s events created skepticism around the productiveness of the peace talks in Jordan. Written in Khaleej Times, “the deadly shooting, followed by the late-night rampage, immediately raised doubts about Jordan’s declaration that Israeli and Palestinian officials had pledged to calm a year-long wave of violence.”

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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