Israeli forces have arrested a senior member of the Islamic Jihad (IJ) terror group amid rising tensions in the region.

The army said it apprehended the militant in Arraba, near Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank.

IJ confirmed that one of its leaders, Tareq Qadaan, was detained as part of an "arrest campaign", AFP reported.

The arrest came as Israeli officials warned the group against carrying out retaliatory attacks after the Israeli army destroyed one of the group's tunnels that stretched from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The operation resulted in the death of at least 12 militants from IJ and Hamas.

Tunnels have been used in the past to carry out attacks.

"We're aware of the plot that Palestinian Islamic Jihad is concocting against Israel," the army said in a statement, local news website Haaretz reported.

"It is playing with fire on the backs of residents of the Gaza Strip, and at the expense of the internal Palestinian reconciliation and the entire region."

On Sunday, 12 November,IJ issued a statement saying that Israel's warning was a "declaration of war".

Rising tensions have prompted the UN to issue a statement, expressing concern. The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov said "the reckless actions and statements of fighters in Gaza risk a dangerous escalation".

The recent developments came in light of progress in reconciliation between Hamas and the rival Fatah party, which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Earlier this month, Hamas handed over control of Gaza's border crossings with Israel and Egypt to the PA.

The handover, on 1 November, was the first tangible step in implementing a reconciliation deal between the rival groups.

What is the Islamic Jihad?

Islamic Jihad movement
Palestinian supporters of the Islamic Jihad Movement take part in a demonstration marking the first anniversary of the so-called wave of Palestinian knife attacks in Gaza city, on October 2, 2016 MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine was formed it 1979 and its objective is to create an Islamic Palestinian state. The group violently opposes the existence of the state of Israel and is believed to be the second largest terrorist organisation in Gaza, after Hamas.

"The group has been reported to have support from Iran within the Gaza Strip, but Iran has argued that its support in the Gaza strip has been purely humanitarian," counter-terrorism expert David Otto told IBTimes UK.

"The Islamic Jihad is one of the biggest threats to Israel internal security. The group has seasoned and battled-tested fighters from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and within Gaza itself," he continued.

Unlike Hamas, which signed a ceasefire with Israel, IJ refuses to participate in the political process and rejects "any peaceful solution to the Palestinian cause", according to NGO Counter Extremism Project.

The group, which moved its headquarters to Damascus, Syria, in 1989, is believed to be composed of between 1,000 and 8,000 fighters.

"The direct and indirect support between the IJ and elements from Hamas has forced Israel to crack down and hunt leaders of Islamic Jihad linked to both Hamas and the Islamic State (Isis)," Otto said.

"The footprints and in-depth operation of the Islamic Jihad within Gaza causes sleeplessness for Israel security services. Their affiliation with Hamas is a cocktail of doom for Israel especially at a time when Isis is lashing out for survival," he concluded.