Clashes Erupt As IDF Searches For Murder Suspect In Palestinian Refugee Camp
Israeli army mission comes days after soldier Ronen Lubarsky was killed in West Bank
Clashes broke out Monday morning when the Israeli army conducted a raid in the al-Am’ari Palestinian refugee camp near Ramallah. Troops carried out house-to-house searches in a bid to locate the Palestinian who killed an IDF soldier last week.
Staff Sergeant Ronen Lubarsky, 20, a member of the elite Duvdevan commando unit, was struck in the head on Thursday with a heavy marble slab dropped from a third-story rooftop. He was taken in critical condition to Hadassah Medical Center—Ein Kerem, where he succumbed to his wounds two days later.
Lubarsky, who was laid to rest Sunday at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery, was taking part of an operation to arrest Palestinians involved in a spate of recent shooting attacks in the area.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed over the weekend to “reach the terrorist” responsible for Lubarsky’s death and “bring him to justice.”
While searching for the suspected murderer, a large IDF force encountered resistance from residents of al-Am’ari, who threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers as they entered the camp with some 30 army vehicles, according to Palestinian media accounts. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah reported that 13 Palestinians were lightly injured from rubber bullets used to disperse them.
Palestinians sources also reported that several people were arrested in the operation.
There were no reports of injuries to Israeli security forces.
Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence, told The Media Line that security in the West Bank is generally jointly upheld by the IDF and Palestinian Authority police. However, he qualified, “Israel works on its own when its interests are at stake. It’s very clear to all those who want to oppose Israel through violence that the [IDF] will go after them.”
Dr. Neriah explained that while IDF soldiers are regularly targeted by Palestinians with stones and Molotov cocktails, the incident with the marble slab was unusual. He nevertheless concluded that “it is too early to judge” whether the Israeli military will alter its modus operandi in the future.
Colonel (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, an IDF intelligence expert and Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, told The Media Line that the army likely received specific information relating the perpetrator to warrant launching the search mission. “Overall, the IDF has been doing a thorough job of sustaining its conflict management in the West Bank despite certain problems from time to time,” he stressed to The Media Line.
“The IDF has a thoroughly specific intelligence-gathering system, and I don’t think that is subject to change. It is a learning organization as every event produces new issues and studies.”