3 Palestinian terrorists killed before mass casualty attack

Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell was planning terror attack similar to Bnei Brak rampage.

By David Hellerman

Three Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in a gun battle with Israeli security forces during an arrest raid on Friday night.

Israeli officials described the cell as a “ticking time bomb,” preparing a mass casualty attack similar to last week’s rampage in Bnei Brak in which five people were killed.

The cell was being monitored by the Shin Bet, which led to a car chase with the terrorists opening fire. Israeli security forces fired back killing all three.

A fourth member of the cell was arrested separately on Saturday in the Palestinian village of Shuweika, near Tulkarm.

In a video message posted on Saturday night, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, appearing alongside Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and military secretary Avi Gil, said security forces “thwarted a ticking time bomb” and predicted “many more” attempted terror attacks.

“We are working right now to prevent them,” Bennett said. “Our people act with great bravery, around the clock, in a hostile and violent environment, and I want to send a speedy recovery to the wounded in the operation.”

Four Israeli officers were injured in the shootout, including an elite commander in the Yamam counter-terror unit of the Border Police. The commander, who can only be identified as Chief Superintendent S., is currently listed in stable condition at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced that the three were its members and identified them as Saeb Abahara, 30, from the village of Yamun near Jenin; Khalil Twalba, 24, from Jenin; and Saif Abu Libdeh, 25, from Tulkarm.

In a video posted on social media, Abu Libdeh read a last will and encouraged more attacks on Israelis.

“Soon you’ll hear about me,” Abu Libdeh said in the video. “I’m going to do something very big in Israel.”

Guns, grenades and a last will were found in the car, as well as the will.

Islamic Jihad vowed revenge for the deaths of the three.

In recent days, terror sprees in Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak killed 11 people.