Five weeks after four Israelis were shot dead in the South Hebron Hills,
security forces on Friday killed two Hamas terrorists in Hebron who the IDF said
committed the August 31 attack.
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Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam armed wing
released a statement on Friday threatening to “respond through all means” to the
raid, adding that it would “not succeed in causing the path of our resistance to
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the
IDF operation, saying “the path to peace does not come by way of killing our
citizens, harming them, establishing settlements or the terror of
Six suspected terrorist enablers were arrested in the raid,
and security officials said every member of the Hamas cell that carried out the
driveby attack in August is now either dead or in the custody of Israel or the
PA. The cell is suspected of having carried out additional recent shootings in
the South Hebron Hills.
The terrorists killed in Friday’s raid have been
named as Nashat Karmi, 33, a senior Hamas commander in Hebron, and Mammon Natshe, 24.
They were killed in
their Hebron hideout after resisting capture and opening fire on soldiers from
the IDF’s Duvdevan undercover unit and officers from the Israel Police’s
Counterterrorism Unit (YAMAM).
“There is no comfort for the bereaved
parents, orphans or widower, but today we closed a circle in which justice was
done,” Judea Brigade commander Col. Guy Hazut told reporters on Friday, after
the raid was over.
The four Israelis who were killed on August 31 were
Yitzhak and Talya Ames, 47 and 45, respectively, Kochava Even- Haim, 37, and
Avishai Shindler, 24. All of them lived in Beit Hagai.
At 11 p.m. on
Thursday night, the joint security force, acting on an intelligence tip from the
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), arrived outside a threestory building in
southern Hebron to search for the wanted men.
Two armed men were seen
walking out of the building in a bid to escape. The terrorists opened fire on
security personnel, prompting soldiers to return fire.
Karmi was killed
in the exchange of fire. The remaining individual – Natshe – retreated into the
building, beginning a standoff that lasted almost the entire night.
IDF was aware that the large building housed three extended families, and
soldiers used loudspeakers to call for everyone to leave the
Twenty people – men, women and children – came
Security forces denied a request by the building’s owner to go
inside in order to convince Natshe to surrender, in line with a High Court of
Justice ban on sending Palestinian civilians into battle zones.
continued to barricade himself inside, and Duvdevan commandos began firing at
the building’s walls, before a bulldozer was brought in to demolish a fake wall
that was part of the terrorists’ hideout, camouflaged inside the
The bulldozer then demolished the entire hideout.
sun rose, soldiers identified Natshe’s body lying in the rubble, and seized a
cache of machine guns believed to have been used in the August 31
The operation marked the culmination of weeks of efforts to hunt
down the Hamas cell. Six suspected terrorist enablers were arrested in recent
A security source added that while all members of the cell were now
either dead or in custody, a “third or fourth circle” involved in the planning
of the attack was still at large.
“We will get to them,” the source
Individuals abroad are also suspected of organizing the
Hamas has been on the receiving end of Israeli and PA pressure to
shut down its terrorist activities for three years.
Hebron is home to one
of Hamas’s strongest power bases in the West Bank, which is reinforced using
mosques, educational centers and other activities.
A major intelligence
effort has been under way to map out Hamas activities there.
Both of the
gunmen killed on Friday had been released from Israeli prisons after serving
their sentences, and were part of a hardened, experienced generation of
terrorists, the source added.
“They come out after a good course in
terrorism, and know how to handle a Shin Bet interrogation,” the source
Following the raid, a small number of disturbances were recorded in
Hebron. Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails during a funeral
procession for one of the terrorists; on Route 60, Palestinian threw rocks at
Israeli vehicles. No injuries were reported, though four cars were
A group of 100 Palestinians and Israeli and foreign leftwing
activists threw rocks at security forces near the Jorat a- Shama village, near
Security forces dispersed the riot using non-lethal crowd
Rocks were also thrown at two Israeli vehicles north of
The cars were damaged, but no injuries were reported. Security
officials said the overall situation in the Hebron area was calm.
released a statement on Friday condemning the PA and Fatah for passing
information on to Israel that led to its members’ deaths.
Friday thanked the IDF for killing the terrorists.
According to the NRG
website, the children of Yitzhak and Talya Ames published a letter in which they
asked the prime minister and the defense minister to give the army a free hand
to prevent future terrorist attacks.
“There is no doubt that [Friday’s
operation] was an important victory, but to our sorrow, it was a small one.
There are still quite a few murderers who want to prevent the Israeli nation
from settling its land,” they wrote.
“From our perspective, the great
victory here is to continue in our father and mother’s path to study Torah and
to love and build the land. We appeal to our leadership not to show weakness at
this time and to allow building to continue everywhere in the Land of
In rare statements issued following these types of incidents,
both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak released
statements on Friday praising the security forces for their swift
Netanyahu praised the security forces and police for “doing
justice to the terrorists who murdered Talya and Yitzhak Imes, Avishai Shendler
and Kochava Even-Haim on August 31, leaving seven orphans in Beit
Israel would “continue to pursue the terrorists everywhere and
everyplace,” Netanyahu said.
Barak said the raid was a “fast response” to
the terrorist murders and promised that the IDF and security services would
operate with determination and in a steadfast manner against the terrorist
organizations to “ensure a continuation of quiet and security in Judea and
Samaria.”Herb Keinon contributed to this report.