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Israeli raid kills Hamas member said to be behind attack

AFP , Wednesday 27 Jul 2016
Israeli raid kills Hamas member
(File Photo: Reuters) Israeli troops gather at the scene where a Palestinian, who Israeli military said tried to stab troops, was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces at Beit El checkpoint near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah February 26, 2016.
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Israeli forces fired anti-tank missiles at a house in the occupied West Bank after a shootout overnight, killing a Hamas member accused of a deadly attack on a rabbi, authorities said Wednesday.

Several other people were arrested in the hours-long raid in the village of Surif, near Hebron.

Military footage showed a house being hit with an anti-tank missile then further demolished with an earthmover.

The military said the Israeli troops surrounded the house where the Hamas member was hiding out and exchanged fire with him.

Afterwards, the house was struck with anti-tank missiles and the militant's body was found inside. He was identified as Mohamed Fakih, 29, and Hamas hailed him as a "martyr".

"After extensive research, we found the hideout of the Hamas member who killed Michael Mark," Colonel Roman Gofman, commander of the brigade that led the operation, said in a video distributed by the occupation forces.

"We besieged the house and exchanges of fire took place after he opened fire at the soldiers. We responded and Fakih was killed in battle. His house was destroyed on him."

Soldiers carried away Fakih's body and arrested three people, who were led away with their eyes covered and loaded into military vehicles, an AFP photographer witnessed.

The official Palestinian news agency reported five people were arrested and said several villagers were injured, with Palestinian ambulances denied access to the site by Israeli forces.

The Israeli occupation forces reported three arrests over the course of the investigation that began after the July 1 attack that killed the rabbi.

It called them part of a cell "affiliated with Hamas", the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and which has a strong presence in parts of the occupied West Bank, particularly Hebron.

The July 1 attack saw a car targeted by gunfire south of Hebron, leading to a crash that killed Mark and wounded three family members.

It was among a series of attacks in the Hebron area at the time, including a June 30 stabbing by a Palestinian in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba that killed a 13-year-old girl.

Hebron is the scene of frequent tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Several hundred Israeli settlers live in the heart of the city under heavy military guard of the occupation forces among around 200,000 Palestinians.

Fakih had served time in Israeli jail for links to the Islamic Jihad movement and joined Hamas while in prison, according to Israel's Shin Bet security service.

It issued a statement saying a Palestinian security official was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of driving Fakih to the scene of the rabbi attack.

Fakih's brother and cousin were also held on suspicion of helping him to hide after the attack, the statement added.

Hamas said in a statement it "hails the Al-Qassam martyr Mohamed Fakih, who was martyred after a gun battle that lasted more than seven hours with occupation forces in Surif."

The Al-Qassam Brigades are Hamas's armed wing.

Violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel since October has killed at least 218 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese, according to an AFP count.

*The tory was edited by Ahram Online

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