IDF kills Hamas men who murdered 4 Israelis in August
Hamas threatens to 'respond through all means' to the raid; Fayyad says ‘killing our citizens’ doesn’t lead to peace.
By YAAKOV LAPPIN, TOVAH LAZAROFF
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.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 fail.”RELATED:IDF kills W. Bank Hamas commander as security tightenedPeres on fatal Hebron attack: Terrorists will not triumphPalestinian 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 settlers.”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).Advertisement“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.The IDF was aware that the large building housed three extended families, and soldiers used loudspeakers to call for everyone to leave the premises.Twenty people – men, women and children – came out.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.Natshe 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 building.The bulldozer then demolished the entire hideout.As the 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 attack.The operation marked the culmination of weeks of efforts to hunt down the Hamas cell. Six suspected terrorist enablers were arrested in recent days.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 said.Individuals abroad are also suspected of organizing the attack.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 said.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 damaged.A group of 100 Palestinians and Israeli and foreign leftwing activists threw rocks at security forces near the Jorat a- Shama village, near Ramallah.Security forces dispersed the riot using non-lethal crowd control methods.Rocks were also thrown at two Israeli vehicles north of Hebron.The cars were damaged, but no injuries were reported. Security officials said the overall situation in the Hebron area was calm.Hamas released a statement on Friday condemning the PA and Fatah for passing information on to Israel that led to its members’ deaths.Settlers on 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 Israel.”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 action.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 Hagai.”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.
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