In a joint operation in Nablus on Thursday, the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Border Police killed three terrorists responsible for the Dee family murders.
Three members of the Dee family – Lucy (Leah) and her two daughters, Maia and Rina – were killed by the terrorists in early April during Passover.
The three terrorists were Hassan Katan, Maad Mitzri and Ibrahim Hura. Hamas members Katan and Mitzri were the killers, and Hura was a key accomplice.
While the death of the terrorists means they cannot be interrogated, The Jerusalem Post received indications that the evidence against them for the Dee murders was multifaceted, with Hamas itself claiming that the terrorists were important operational members.
A statement by the IDF and Shin Bet described an extensive gunfight between the security forces and the terrorists, and the Post received indications that drones were used as well.
IDF official: Nablus operation completed at 'unusually fast speed'
A senior IDF Central Command officer said the operation was completed with unusual speed within an hour and not the usual several hours.
“With less talent and exactness [in intelligence and operations], more IDF personnel or Palestinian civilians could have been hurt,” or the terrorists might have escaped, he said.
Eight Palestinians were injured, he said, adding that they were not innocent bystanders. According to Palestinian reports, a fourth Palestinian civilian bystander, Ziad Shuviri, was killed during the operation. The Post was unable to confirm the accuracy of either report.
The senior officer said the speed with which Israel brings terrorists to justice, whether it takes days or weeks, versus months and years, can serve either to deter terrorism or help terrorists recruit more people when the response takes too long.
“There are no safe-haven cities in the West Bank [for terrorists] – not Jenin, not Nablus, nowhere,” he said.
Overall, “we are still in a very challenging period,” he added. “The level of shooting attacks is still very high.”
The senior officer also implied that Hamas as an organization was investing more in the current wave of terrorism than it was before, when most of the attacks were being carried out by unaffiliated “lone wolf” attackers.
The final round of intelligence collection started early Thursday when Israeli intelligence received confirmation of the location of the terrorists, including a tip by certain Palestinian forces about the terrorists’ vehicle, according to some reports.
The senior officer did not deny the use of drones in the operation, but he downplayed their role and emphasized the role of the ground forces.
IDF to use armed drones for targeted killings in West Bank?
Video footage showed what appeared to be undercover Israeli security forces entering the market as local women and men to surround the area and prevent any escape before the rest of the forces moved in.
Earlier in the day, the IDF confirmed that it was engaged in operations against terrorists in Nablus, without providing specifics. It kept the drone tactics under the public’s radar.
The military usually sends in foot soldiers to detain suspects or engage in combat in such cases without using drones beyond collecting intelligence. The use of drones in the West Bank could mark a new tactical shift if it were used, possibly to avoid larger friction with Palestinian civilians present in the residential areas, while maintaining the ability to carry out a more targeted attack.
Until now, drones have only been used only to collect intelligence and sometimes to fire missiles to kill terrorists in Gaza, while kamikaze explosive drones have reportedly been used against Iranian targets, but not in the West Bank.
“After the terrorist attack, there was a significant intelligence effort [that] led to locating the hideout in the Nablus Kasbah,” the joint statement by security forces said. More intelligence was received early on Thursday that led to the terrorists’ location, including the seizure of two M-16 rifles and a Kalashnikov gun, it said.
The security forces said they would “continue to act with determination to thwart all terrorist threats” directed at Israelis.
Some soldiers reportedly were lightly wounded, but a senior IDF officer denied those reports. He did clarify that he was referring specifically to whether any soldiers were hospitalized, meaning that there is a possibility that some did experience minor wounds that were treated at the scene, without the need for hospitalization.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant praised the security forces.
“As I promised Leo [Dee], the defense establishment’s arms will reach every terrorist,” he said.
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi thanked security forces for the Nablus operation.
The assassination of terrorists is the “best response to terrorism,” he said. “We will continue to hug the Dee family and strengthen as a community.”
Rabbi Leo Dee said: “The kids and I were comforted to hear that the Israeli security forces have eliminated the Iranian-funded terrorists responsible for Lucy, Maia and Rina’s murders. This has been done in a way that has not endangered the lives of Israeli soldiers, nor innocent Palestinian civilians, in a way that only the Israeli army knows how to do.
“Furthermore, we have asked for the opportunity to speak with the terrorists’ families and ask what good they thought would come out of their actions and to hear their vision for a better world.”
Speaking at Shin Bet headquarters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli security forces had killed or captured about 110 Palestinian “murderers” in recent months.
הערכה רבה לכוחות הביטחון על חיסול חוליית המחבלים שביצעה את הפיגוע הנתעב בחמרה בו נרצחו האם לוסי ובנותיה מאיה ורינה די. כפי שהבטחתי לליאו, אב המשפחה, ידה הארוכה של מערכת הביטחון תגיע לכל מחבל— יואב גלנט - Yoav Gallant (@yoavgallant) May 4, 2023
Rabbi Leo Dee said that “the kids and I were comforted to hear that the Israeli security forces have eliminated the Iranian-funded terrorists responsible for Lucy, Maia and Rina’s murders. This has been done in a way that has not endangered the lives of Israeli soldiers, nor innocent Palestinian civilians – in a way that only the Israeli army knows how to do.“Furthermore, we have asked for the opportunity to speak with the terrorists’ families and ask what good they thought would come out of their actions and to hear their vision for a better world.”Speaking at Shin Bet headquarters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli security forces had killed or captured about 110 Palestinian “murderers” in recent months.
There have been many recent operations, but it was unclear how he arrived at the numbers and whether they included the capture of Palestinian terrorists planning attacks against Israelis.Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.