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Ofra shooter killed by Israeli forces in West Bank was a Hamas member

Israeli security forces arrested terror suspects during West Bank operations that killed two assailants suspected of carrying out deadly attacks.
IDF
Following his death, the Hamas militant group claimed Salih Barghouti as one of their members

Israeli security forces early on Thursday shot dead a Palestinian militant suspected of involvement in Sunday's deadly shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Ofra.

29-year old Salih Omar Barghouti has been the subject of a massive man hunt throughout the West Bank after he was involved in a drive-by shooting that left seven people critically wounded and one newborn baby dead.

Hours later, security forces confirmed a second Palestinian militant had been killed who has been in hiding for two months after fatally shooting two coworkers in the Barkan industrial zone.

The manhunt for the Ofra perpetrators saw IDF fatally wound Salih Barghouti in the village of Surda. Palestinian media reported Wednesday that Barghouti was shot and critically injured during the arrest.

The Ofra suspect's death came just hours after the baby, who was delivered after a pregnant woman was shot during the attack, died on Wednesday evening.

Forces from Yamam, the Israeli Border Police's counter-terrorism unit, set out for Sudra acting on intelligence leads on Barghouti's location. The unit reportedly located the assailant, pulling their vehicle next to the parked cab where he was sitting.

An unnamed colleague of Barghouti told the Times of Israel that the gunman worked for a Ramallah-based taxi company called Rafideen. He added that he had been on duty for the past three days.

During an exchange, the suspect was critically wounded and later pronounced dead.

Israeli security forces have found themselves embroiled in several clashes in recent days as they carried out operations to locate the assailant throughout Palestinian areas. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, clashes ensued after Israelis raided the office of Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

That same night, Israeli forces raided Barghouti's family home in the central West Bank of Kobar, and detained several of his family members. 

Clashes ensued with local residents, in which two Palestinians were injured, including a young child, Palestinian sources said.

Ramallah falls under "Area A" designating full Palestinian civil and security control and serves as the seat of the Palestinian Authority's government. Israeli incursions into the city are very rare in recent years and are typically met with resistance.

Barghouti was identified by Palestinian media as a 29-year-old from the Palestinian village of Kobar and the son of Omar Barghouti*, a senior Hamas member and perennial security prisoner.

The senior Barghouti has spent a total of 28 non-consecutive years in prison after numerous arrests by Israel. He was convicted in 1978 of murdering an Israeli soldier. 

Salih's uncle, Nael Barghouti, who was convicted for the same crime, is the longest serving Palestinian prisoner. Freed in 2011 in an exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, he had already established that record - but he was rearrested in 2014 for a charge of belonging to Hamas, and his life sentence was then reinstated.

Shortly after Barghouti's death, Hamas claimed credit for the deadly Ofra attack, affirming the killed assailant was a member of the group.

The Islamist Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, saluted the shooting and in a statement said it proved "resistance" was still alive in the West Bank.

"Hamas announces with great pride the death of its martyr Salih Omar Barghouti, the perpetrator of the heroic Ofra operation," the terror group wrote on Twitter Thursday.Twitter/Hamas

Conducting a security assessment after the overnight events, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said Israel had sent a clear message to terrorists.

"The fight against terror is a continuous struggle, but the message to terror and the terrorists is clear," the chief of staff said, adding that efforts to preserve security and security in Judea and Samaria and the rest of the West Bank are continuing all the time."

Following the overnight raids, former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted his blessings to the security forces on the overnight killings.

Liberman also demanded the government stop the transfer of Qatari money and fuel to the Gaza Strip, alleging Hamas was behind the two terror incidents.

“It is clear beyond any doubt that at least in one case involved a Hamas cell operated by the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip,” Liberman claimed. “ I demand that the Israeli government immediately announce the cessation of the transfer of money and fuel in Qatari funding to the Gaza Strip.”

This is a developing story

Note: Omar Barghouti is also the name of an unrelated Palestinian co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movemen

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