ido shapira jenin 298.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
IDF Paratroopers laid siege to a home in Jenin on Thursday, setting off a fierce gunbattle that left St.-Sgt. Ido Shapira, 20, dead and forced the surrender of six terrorists who directed suicide bombings which killed 22 Israelis in 2005.
In the first major operation in the West Bank since Tuesday's raid on a Jericho prison, IDF troops entered Jenin overnight Wednesday in hot pursuit after six Islamic Jihad and Tanzim terrorists suspected of directing the local terror infrastructure including five suicide bombings over the last year.
The force of Paratroopers surrounded the home where the fugitives were holed up and demanded their surrender while using the "pressure cooker" tactic demonstrated successfully in Jericho on Tuesday to force the wanted men out. A fierce gun battle raged throughout the operation and Shapira was fatally wounded by gunfire. A helicopter was dispatched to evacuate him to hospital but he succumbed to his wounds and died at the scene.
The army said it was investigating the possibility that Shapira was killed by friendly fire. The army said it was waiting for the results from ballistic and forensic tests. "It was a complicated operation," an officer from the Central Command said. "There were exchanges of fire and we have not ruled out the possibility that he was shot by IDF troops."
Searching the house, troops found two Kalashnikov rifles, two hand grenades and a pair of pistols. The army claimed that the six wanted men were in the midst of planning attacks slated to be perpetrated against Israel in the coming days.
Previous attacks by the cell in 2005 included a number of suicide bombings: the February bombing of the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv in which five Israelis were killed; the July bombing at the Hasharon Mall in Netanya in which five Israelis were killed; the August bombing in the Hadera market in which six Israelis were killed; and the December bombing at the Netanya mall in which five Israelis killed.
In December, another suicide attack directed by the cell was thwarted after IDF troops stationed near Tulkarm stopped two bombers dispatched by the cell and on their way to Rosh Ha'ayin. The bombers however detonated their explosive belts and killed IDF Lt. Uri Binamo. The Jenin raid was part of an operation launched at the beginning of the week with the aim of demolishing the Islamic Jihad terror infrastructure in the city.
Daniella Shapira - Ido's mother - said her son loved his service as a combat officer in the Paratrooper's Brigade. "He believed that his service was significant and he used to tell me that he didn't care if he would die," she said. "He was a happy person."
Shapira saw his parents for the last time on Wednesday when he went home to Haifa. He was supposed to travel to the United States this summer to work as a Jewish Agency emissary at a summer camp. "Ido came to us with a dream to make an educational difference," the Jewish Agency said in a statement. "We had the privilege to know a wonderful and modest person. Ido, with his happiness for life and integrity, tried to ensure the future of the Jewish people."
Meanwhile Thursday, two Israelis were shot and wounded in a drive-by terrorist attack at the Hawara Checkpoint south of Nablus. The wounded Israelis were two security guards - one from Petah Tikva, and one from Ariel. One of the guards was wounded in the eye and both were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. Later in the day, a soldier and three Border Policemen were lightly wounded after rocks were hurled at them by an angry Palestinian mob in a village south of Ramallah.