Fogel family massacre: 2 Palestinians arrested

Palestinian youths from Awarta "saw children sleeping in Fogel home," snuck in and stabbed them to death; suspects affiliated with PFLP.

fogel itamar attack body bags 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
fogel itamar attack body bags 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Two Palestinian youths from the village of Awarta were arrested in recent days for the brutal slaying of five members of the Fogel family in their Itamar home last month, the IDF and Shin Bet said on Sunday following the lifting of a media ban on the investigation.
The suspects have been named as Hakim Maazan Niad Awad, an 18-year-old high school student, and Amjad Mahmud Fauzi Awad, 19, both from the West Bank village of Awarta, located 2 kilometers south of the settlement of Itamar.
The suspects have confessed to the stabbings and re-enacted the murders, security forces said on Sunday. According to Army Radio, they did not express remorse for their crimes.
Both men are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) terror group and received significant assistance from family members and friends after the attack, security forces added.
The suspects planned the stabbings days ahead of time. On the night of March 11, after unsuccessful attempts to obtain firearms from a local PFLP representative in their village, the two set out toward Itamar on foot, armed with knives, a wirecutter and masks to cover their faces.
After walking one kilometer, they reached the fence surrounding Itamar. After seeing that the fence was electric, the suspects decided not to use their wire cutters and instead climbed over it. They then climbed through a forest and over a hilltop before reaching a row of homes.
The suspects at first entered a home adjacent to the Fogel residence, but found that nobody was home. They stole an M-16 rifle from the home, ammunition and body armor, before walking on.
"They saw children sleeping in the home, and entered the Fogel family residence," the IDF said.
Immediately after entering the home, the youths set their knives on two young brothers sleeping in their beds, 4-year-old Elad and 11-year-old Yoav.
They then entered the parents' bedroom, where they launched a knife attack on Ehud and Ruth Fogel. The parents fought back, attempting to fend off the attackers. At that point, one of the suspects shot Ruth with a stolen M-16, at which point the two died of their wounds.
The two then left the house. One of the suspects, however, returned and stabbed to death three-month-old baby Hadas after she began crying in her crib.
According to Israel Radio, Amjad said that he was unaware that there were two other children in the house, and that if he had known, he would have stabbed them as well.
After completing the slaughter, the suspects walked back to the village and told Hakim's uncle, PFLP member Salah Adin Awad, what they had done.
Salah hid their firearms and instructed them to burn their clothes, which were covered in blood.
The youths then resumed their daily life, while Salah sent the weapons to a friend in Ramallah, Jad Avid, who hid the guns in his home.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which led the investigation, said the attack was a premeditated terror attack carried out by suspects who have affiliations with the PFLP.
"They received much support from family members and friends in their environment," the Shin Bet added.
Several suspected accomplices are also under arrest.
The IDF has arrested and questioned dozens of suspects in Awarta in recent weeks.
"The intelligence operation and pooling of resources [between the army, police and Shin Bet] led to the arrests," a joint statement said.
IDF Spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said: “The murders of five family members including a three-month baby constitute a clear war crime and a crossing of all red lines. The IDF has invested in numerous operational and intelligence efforts, and has worked closely with other security forces in order to find those responsible for this vicious murder.”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Sunday expressed his condolences once again to the Fogel family after the announcement of the arrests.
Katz told Army Radio, "To those Palestinians who said 'it can't be one of us' [who committed the crime], well it turned out to be one of you." staff contributed to this report.