|soldiers surrounded the building of Hamas suspects in Hebron, Sep 23, 2014.|
The two wanted Palestinians who have been suspected of kidnapping and murdering three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion earlier this summer, were shot and killed by the IDF in an exchange of fire on Tuesday morning.
Before dawn on Tuesday, soldiers surrounded the building in Hebron where Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, the two main suspects in the kidnapping and murder, were holed up.
Both terrorist suspects had been hiding out in a carpentry shop in Hebron when security forces, led by the Counter-Terrorism Unit, reached them overnight between Monday and Tuesday. Security sources said the suspects were armed with automatic weapons, and fired on security forces upon sight, who returned fire. The suspects were killed in the exchange of fire.
Brig.-Gen. Tamir Yadai, commander of the Judea and Samara Division, said, “We have been pursuing Marwan and Amar since June 20. This has been a long and complex operation involving the Shin Bet, the IDF, and the Counter-Terrorism Unit. Yesterday evening we located their hiding spot, and since 1 am we surrounded it.”
Security forces received intelligence information about the hideout over the past week, he added.
The IDF surrounded the home, where the two were hiding in a pit located in the basement. “At a certain stage, they came out and opened fire,” Yadai said. “One was killed on the spot, and one into a pit and I assume he was killed,” Yadai added. The body of one terrorist has been identified.
One of the suspects was armed with an M-16 and the second came out shooting with a Kalashnikov.
The Counter-Terrorism Unti threw grenades into the area where the second suspect fell, and the army is searching for the body
“They did not hide in this location for the entire time. We believe they were there over the past week,” Yadai said. The carpentry shop is located south of the Al-Danadi hospital in Hebron, and i near a Kawasme family-owned complex.
A number of arrests occurred in addition to the raid, targeting members of a terrorist infrastructure who assisted the kidnappers and murderers, Yadai added.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz spoke with OC Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, and congratulated him on the successful operation on Tuesday.
“On the eve of the New Year, Operation Brother’s Keeper, which began on June 13, and lasted throughout this time with determination, ended.”
The IDF promised the families of the victims that they would reach the kidnappers, and kept the promise, Gantz said. “There is no comfort for the families in their heavy mourning and pain, but I hope they have a little relief in the knowledge that we got to the murderers of their sons,” Gantz added.
Kidnapping and Murder
Yeshiva students Gil-Ad Shaer,16, Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were kidnapped by terrorists late at night on June 12 from a hitchhiking post in Gush Etzion. They were found dead over two weeks later on June 30.
In June both Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha were identified as suspects by the Shin Bet added, which added that both were wanted as soon as security forces learned of the kidnapping.
Marwan Kawasme, 29, a Hamas member and son of a family of Hamas members, had been arrested multiple times in the past for terrorist activities, including most recently in 2010, after being identified as a member of a Hamas terror cell which carried out an attack near Bet Hagai in 2010, in which four Israelis were murdered.
Amar Abu Aisha, 32, a Hebron-based Hamas member and son of a family of Hamas member, was in Israeli custody from 2005 to 2006 on suspicion of being involved in terrorism.
In August the homes of suspects, Amar Abu Aysh was demolished by combat engineers supported by Border Patrol officers. Security forces also sealed off a home belonging to suspect Marwan Kawasme.
Additionally, security forces arrested overnight Basher Kawasme and Ta’ar Kawasme, who are the sons of Arafat Kawasme, himself under arrest since July 14 on suspicion of assisting the murderers to hide after killing the three Israeli teens.
“In recent days, a number of Hamas operatives suspected of abetting the suspects have been arrested and taken to Shin Bet questioning,” the intelligence agency said. Two months ago, the Shin Bet arrested Hassam Kawasme, a Hamas operative who confessed to acting as the cell commander and securing the funding for the kidnap and murder from Hamas members in the Gaza Strip.