On February 6th, in the village of Yamun near Jenin, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Security Forces (ISA) killed Hamas commander Ahmed Nasser Jarrar in a raid in the early morning. Ahmed Jarrar was a leader of Hamas’s Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades. Hamas praised Jarrar following the announcement of his death.
According to the IDF, the building Jarrar was found inside was surrounded by security forces. Jarrar armed with an M-16 rifle emerged from the building and was shot dead.
Following the raid, Israeli security forces clashed with dozens of Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent two Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets and 7 Palestinians were hurt from inhaling tear gas. No Israeli forces were reported injured.
Israeli security officials held Ahmed Jarrar responsible for the January 9th drive by shooting which killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach on the road near his home. Shevach was in his car when men opened fire on him.
Ahmed Nassar Jarrar is the son of Nassar Jarrar, Nassar was a senior Hamas commander and was the leader of Hamas’s forces in Jenin, playing a significant role in the 2nd Intifada until he was killed by Israeli troops in 2002.
This is not the only incident of a Rabbi being murdered this year in Israel. On February 5th a Rabbi named Itamar Ben-Gal was violently stabbed to death at a bus stop outside of the city of Ariel. Israeli security forces believe a man named Abed al-Karim Adel Assi who is linked with the Palestinian Authority (PA) carried out the murder.
President Netanyahu referenced the successful Israeli operation “determined and complex” in a statement, highlighting the raid as an example of Israeli justice.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed that attacks would continue, referencing the “liberation of Jerusalem” Jerusalem has been front and center of Hamas’ calls for action following an operation on the Temple Mount killed two Israeli police officers in July of last year; and has remained a propaganda focus following the announcement of the U.S. decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Over the last month the US has laid out new sanctions that target individuals and entities connected to Hamas, including Haniyeh. The designations are at least partially in response to news that Haniyeh was the preferred Hamas leader of the Iranians, who have renewed financial support of the Palestinian terror group.
The US Treasury Department placed Haniyeh on a sanctions blacklist that will freeze any US based asset he may have and prohibit any individual or company from doing business with him.
Haniyeh has said that these sanctions delegitimatize the US as a peace broker between Israel and Palestine. Hamas reacted to the sanctions by saying it shows the “depth” of US bias toward Israel.
It seems likely that continued low level terror attacks by Hamas will continue against Israeli targets, as part of a long running campaign that has sometimes been called the “knife intifada” due to the relatively unsophisticated attack methods that have been prevalent. Still it seems unlikely that Hamas would choose to substantially escalate this low intensity conflict with Israel in the short term, as it continues to reestablish ties to its Iranian backers.