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Hamas operative killed in IDF shootout was brother of slain soldier’s kidnapper

Ahmad Zahran, killed in West Bank earlier this week, had several relatives who died fighting Israel, including sibling involved in 1994 kidnap, murder of Nachshon Wachsman

Ahmad Zahran, who was killed in a fire-fight with IDF troops near Bidu on September 25, 2021. (Courtesy)
Ahmad Zahran, who was killed in a fire-fight with IDF troops near Bidu on September 25, 2021. (Courtesy)

One of the Palestinian gunmen who was killed in a West Bank shootout between an armed terror cell and IDF troops earlier this week was the brother of a Hamas member involved in the 1994 kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman.

Ahmad Zahran’s brother Zahran Zahran was killed by Israeli security forces — reportedly using a booby-trapped suitcase — four years after he had participated in the abduction that shook the entire country.

On October 9, 1994, Wachsman, 19, a soldier in the Golani infantry brigade, left a base in northern Israel and disappeared after trying to hitch a ride at the Bnei Atarot junction in central Israel.

Two days after his disappearance, the Hamas terrorists who kidnapped him released a video demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for his freedom. If Israel did not comply, they vowed to kill Wachsman the following Friday at 8 p.m.

Speaking to the camera, Wachsman said: “Hamas captured me, they want to release their prisoners. If not, they will kill me. I ask of you to do what you can to get me out of here alive.”

To his parents, he said: “I hope to come back to you.”

Captured IDF soldier Nachson Wachsman in a video released by Hamas terrorists before they killed him during a botched rescue attempt in October 1994. (Screenshot)

A team from the elite Sayeret Matkal special forces unit tried to rescue Wachsman from the Palestinian village north of Jerusalem where he was held, but his Hamas captors killed him as the soldiers closed in.

In addition to his brother, Ahmad Zahran’s grandfather Musa was killed in the 1948 War of Independence and his uncle Muhammad was killed in the 1967 Six-Day War, Haaretz reported Thursday.

Ahmad Zahran, 31, was killed along with two other Hamas operatives during a raid by Israeli security forces on the Palestinian villages of Bidu and Beit Anan near Ramallah early Sunday morning. According to the army, the Hamas operatives opened fire at the Israeli troops, initiating the shootout. The three had also been meeting in order to carry out an imminent attack against Israel, the IDF said.

Zahran lived in Bidu and was heralded in Hamas-affiliated media as a prominent field commander in the terror group’s military wing. He had been imprisoned in Israel for a total of six years on terror-related offenses. The most recent sentence he served was for three years, exiting jail just seven months ago.

Zahran’s mother told the Safa news site that “the one who sent the Jews to me and my children is the Palestinian Authority,” claiming the IDF managed to track her son down through its security coordination with the PA.

Haaretz reported that the IDF had been staking out at a nearby checkpoint in the weeks leading up to the Sunday shootout and that a surveillance drone was flown over the area where he had been hiding — an abandoned building five kilometers away from Bidu.

Bidu is one of eight Palestinian villages that found themselves surrounded by Israel’s West Bank security barrier, which was erected after the Second Intifada. The wall cut off the villages from some of their agricultural lands, leading to mass protests from the Palestinian locals while it was being built.

Recent months have seen a spike in violence in the West Bank, with more frequent attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers, as well as gunfire exchanges between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.

A Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunman was shot dead as he opened fire toward Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Jenin overnight, the Israel Police said in a statement Thursday morning.

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