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Israeli forces kill suspect in rabbi's murder in West Bank raid

Israeli forces in an operation in Jenin to apprehend suspected terrorists behind shooting death of rabbi at West Bank outpost, January 18, 2018
Israel Police
Netanyahu and other Israeli officials praise security forces; Hamas says Palestinian killed was in its ranks

Israeli special forces on Wednesday shot and killed an armed Palestinian man suspected to have been behind a drive-by shooting terror attack that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach near a West Bank settlement outpost last week.

Violent clashes erupted as Israeli forces in armored vehicles entered the Palestinian city of Jenin late Wednesday night, in a raid conducted jointly by police special forces, the Shin Bet security agency, and the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

Two Israeli special forces members were wounded during the raid which continued into Thursday morning, the Israeli military said. Both were evacuated to hospital for treatment and are now in stable condition.

The Palestinian health ministry confirmed a Palestinian was killed in the operation, naming him as Ahmed Jarrar, 22. He was initially identified as the son of Nasser Jarrar, a militant of Islamist movement Hamas who was killed while fighting Israeli forces in the second Palestinian intifada. However, Nasser's brother Ismail, has since told i24NEWS that it was his nephew that was killed.

Several other arrests were made. Witnesses said two houses belonging to the family were also demolished during the operation.

The operation came after a week long manhunt for the terrorists behind Shevach's murder.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman all hailed the courage of the Israeli forces involved in the operation.

Netanyahu, on a visit to India, said in a statement that "we will track down all who attack us and we will hold them accountable."

Liberman said similarly that "terrorists will not be able to hide. We will reach the terrorists everywhere."

"I am proud of all those working in relentless pursuit of the murderers of Rabbi Raziel Shevach. I thank them & all the security forces courageously and heroically taking part in this important operation," Rivlin said.

“Let every terrorist know that he has no hiding place. The State of Israel will pursue him until he is captured or eliminated,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett wrote in a tweet.

Hamas, meanwhile, lauded the Palestinian killed in the operation as a "martyr" and said that he had been a member within its militant ranks.

“We mourn the Qassam fighter Ahmad Jarrar who was martyred in a heroic battle for the Qassam Brigades,” the Islamist group’s Jenin faction wrote in a statement.

Israel Police

Shevach, a 35-year-old father of six, was gunned down last week while driving on Route 60 that crosses the West Bank from North to South, close to the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Gilad where he resided.

The attack prompted calls from settlers and right-wing lawmakers for Havat Gilad and other settlement outposts currently unrecognized by the Israeli government to be given legal status.

Speaking to Israel's Channel 10, Shevach's widow Yael thanked the security forces for their "determined action to capture the terrorists” who killed her husband and sent well wishes to the "heroic" officers injured in the operation.

"Beyond that, this event has no meaning to me,” she added, the channel said. "Our consolation lies not in revenge, but in building the land."

"I call on the Prime Minister: Break your silence and adopt the defense minister’s proposal to approve Havat Gilad and place this on the agenda for this Sunday’s cabinet session. This is our consolation. This is our request. This is the real answer to the murder of my beloved husband and the father of my children," Yael pleaded.

MENAHEM KAHANA (AFP)

Havat Gilad is fully built on private Palestinian land, with the exception of a small plot that was originally bought by right-wing Israeli activists to start the outpost.

All homes hosting about 40 Israeli families have been built illegally, and have demolition orders pending on them.

Israeli settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

There are frequent tensions between Israeli settlers in the Nablus area and Palestinians. Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem alongside nearly three million Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6 triggered unrest in the Palestinian territories, although it was unclear if the murder was related.

Eighteen Palestinians have been killed since Trump's declaration, most of them in clashes with Israeli forces. Shevah is the only Israeli killed during that time period.

(Staff with AFP)

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