Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday that the fact that one of the two gunmen involved in the overnight killing of an army officer was a member of Palestinian Authority security forces was “an escalation”, while the incident meant a loss of control. represents. PA.
The gunman he was referring to was PA intelligence officer Ahmed Abed.
Major Bar Falah, 30, was killed early in the morning in a clash with two gunmen at a West Bank security barrier near the Palestinian village of Jalama. The gunmen were killed in exchange for firing.
“We will not hesitate to take action anywhere the Palestinian Authority does not enforce the order,” Lapid said. “The IDF and the Shin Bet are ready for any scenario to prevent terrorism from taking a toll … Israel will inflict serious harm on anyone who tries to harm it.”
Lapid paid tribute to Falah, calling him a “hero of Israel” and that he was killed “when he and his soldiers bravely … eliminated the terrorists.”
Falah was buried in Netanya on Wednesday evening.
The military said Falah was killed while leading his troops to arrest two men who were under surveillance, but the soldiers did not know the pair were armed. The army was investigating the incident.
Soldiers operating surveillance cameras spotted the two suspects, near the Palestinian village of Jalama, in the so-called seam zone between the West Bank and Israel, before dawn on Wednesday, according to the IDF. Troops sent to investigate surrounded the pair and began the process of arrest, which led to an exchange of fire.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered the closure of the Jalama and Salem checkpoints between Israel and the northern West Bank until further notice following the incident.
“We have seen an increase in the scope of terrorism in recent weeks,” said Gantz, visiting the scene. “I stand in a place that allows a decent livelihood for Jenin and the Palestinians living in the area.
“In light of the shooting and [other] Following the attacks here, I decided to extend the closure of the crossing until further notice.
Gantz said the PA security officer’s involvement was “serious” and “a warning sign to the Palestinian Authority that should self-investigate and act.”
The Defense Minister also said that the attack caused damage to stability and that it “first and foremost harms Palestinian residents and the PA.
“Where the PA will not exercise sovereignty, we will take care of our own security.”
Gantz also ordered the withholding of entry permits into Israel for residents of Kafr Dan, the hometown of the two gunmen, until further notice.
US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said Wednesday that the Biden administration is working to ensure continued security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority amid the ongoing spike in West Bank violence, although she did not directly attribute Wednesday’s incident. not addressed.
In a phone briefing on Wednesday about his recent visit to the region, Leaf said the US is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation, which was at the top of his agenda during meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
But while acknowledging that Israel-PA security coordination can help prevent violence, economic reforms are also important for Palestinians, Leif said, adding that the US is working to promote such steps.
Wednesday’s fatality comes less than two weeks after IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavik Slammed Palestinian Authority for its inability to govern the territories of the West Bank.
“Part of the rise in terrorism stems from the helplessness of Palestinian Authority security forces, which have led to a lack of governance in some areas of Judea and Samaria, and these are fertile grounds for terrorism,” Kohawi said, referring to the West Bank. . Its biblical name.
Emanuel Fabian and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.