IDF Thwarts Knife Attack on Soldier in Hebron

Palestinians: IDF kills two militants near Gaza; IDF soldiers on alert for Hamas kidnap attempts.

The Israel Defense Forces thwarted an attempted stabbing attack by a Palestinian in Hebron on Friday. No soldier was injured during the incident, but the Palestinian attacker was shot in the stomach by IDF forces and later succumbed to his wounds at a hospital.

IDF forces entered Hebron's Old City on Friday in response to reports of Palestinians throwing stones at a settler's home. Palestinians then proceeded to throw stone at the IDF forces that entered the area.

Amidst the stone throwing, a Palestinian approached and IDF soldier and attempted to stab him. The Palestinian attacker was taken to a hospital after being shot by IDF forces.

This attempted stabbing follows another stabbing attack on Wednesday in the West Bank during which a Palestinian police officer fatally stabbed an IDF soldier.

Ihab Khatib, 28, was a non-commissioned logistics officer in the elite Kfir brigade, from the Druze village of Kfar Maghar. He was stabbed to death by Mahmoud al-Khatib, a member of the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.

Earlier on Friday, IDF soldiers opened artillery and gun fire on a group of four Palestinians rigging explosives near the Gaza border.

Two of the militants were killed in the incident as the others fled the scene, according to Palestinian reports. None of the soldiers was wounded in the incident.

The incident comes one day after the Israel Air Force attacked a terror cell planning an attack near the Karni humanitarian aid crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Fares Ahmed Jaber, a "Global Jihad operative", was killed in the raid.

Meanwhile, a senior defense establishment official said Friday that IDF soldiers have been warned to stay on high alert amid Hamas plans to abduct Israeli troops.

The Shin Bet cleared for publication on Thursday that it arrested a prominent Hamas activist in Gaza, who infiltrated into Israel with the intention to abduct an Israeli soldier, murder him, and negotiate over the body.

This was not an isolated incident, the defense official warned on Friday. "The attempt along the Egyptian border to attack and abduct, which was foiled in December, was not a one-time procedure," said the official. "The terrorist organization won't hesitate at any chance to grab another bargaining chip against Israel."

The militant arrested in December was named as Salman Abu Atik, a 43-year-old Gaza resident and a prominent Hamas official who was involved in arms smuggling in the past.

According to the Shin Bet, Atik was taking orders from another prominent Hamas man. It is believed that Atik exited Gaza through a tunnel into Egypt, where he attempted to enter Israeli territory. He was found in possession of $15,000 in counterfeit bills, a gun, and a silencer.

Following information released in Abu Atik's investigation, another Hamas man, Ibrahim Zuara, was arrested on December 31. Zuara, 44, was in possession of two explosive devices each weighing 31 kilograms.

Zuara was apparently supposed to place the devices in heavily populated areas ten days after his entrance into Israel. Zuara also confessed to his involvement in planning the soldier abduction.

The Be'er Sheva court indicted Abu Atik on the charges of attempted murder, illegal army training, arms smuggling, and additional charges.

On Feburary 2, Zuara was also indicted and charged with attempted murder, attempted kidnap, and arms smuggling among other charges.

Israel is now in the midst of indirect negotiations with Hamas to see the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip in 2006. Despite reports of progress, the negotiations have so far not yielded results.