Dimona attack mastermind killed by IDF

Olmert praises security forces' operation; Hamas vows response "at time and place we choose."

IDF Hebron great 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
IDF Hebron great 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A Hamas terrorist who masterminded and directed a suicide bombing in Dimona earlier this year was shot dead by elite border policemen early Sunday morning during an IDF raid in Hebron. The IDF said that in a joint Border Police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) operation the forces surrounded a house where 25-year-old Shihab Na'atsha, a Hamas explosives engineer, was hiding. The IDF said Na'atsha had assembled the bomb belt used in the Dimona attack on February 4 that killed 73-year-old Lubov Razdolskaya and wounded 40 other people. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised security forces. "Due to the nature of the activity, I won't go into detail, but this was a very successful operation," Olmert said during the weekly cabinet meeting. "I send the thanks of the cabinet and of the Israeli public to the members of the security services and to the Israel Police elite units that assisted." Troops surrounded the house in Hebron early Sunday morning and exchanged fire with Na'atsha, calling on him to exit the building. Once he refused to surrender and after hours of gunfire, the IDF bulldozed the house. His body was later removed from the rubble. The IDF added that during the heavy exchanges of fire, troops heard explosions from inside the house, presumably from bombs stored inside. Two additional terror suspects were apprehended during the operation. A Hamas statement said Na'atsha was a group member who fought troops for 12 hours before he was killed. The statement threatened retaliation "at the time and place we choose."