An active member of an Islamic extremist organization was killed in an early morning clash with Israeli special forces, not far from the village of Bil’in, west of Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.
The dead man was named by Israeli security officials as Mohammed Aazi, 28, and was allegedly among the planners of a bus bombing in Tel Aviv last November in which 29 people were injured.
Aazi, the last of those alleged to have planned the bombing still on the loose, had been in hiding and was planning another attack against Israeli civilians or army forces, Israeli sources said.
Two Palestinian men alleged to be Aazi’s assistants, who have been jailed in the past for their involvement with Islamic Jihad, were arrested by security forces on Monday night and held for questioning. “The outcome of this operation emphasizes that terror does not pay,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement. “Terrorists must know that there is no eluding the extensive intelligence and operational capabilities of the IDF, we will continue to seek out those that attempt to undermine and defy our way of life.”
According to the Palestinian sources, Israeli forces arrived in Na’ama, a village near Bil’in, to arrest several terror suspects, and one fled and hid, armed, in a nearby cave in an open area.
Israeli forces besieged the cave and exchanged fire for several hours before killing the suspect, sources said.
The soldiers, from a special forces unit, reportedly killed the suspect by shooting a Stinger shoulder-fired missile into the cave.
Two other suspects were arrested without incident: Mohammad Saif, an Islamic Jihad member recently released from prison, and WIlliam Abu Adi, a Hamas member, also recently discharged. A third suspect was also reportedly arrested.
Clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian villagers in the West Bank following the raid.
Residents said that overnight the IDF had deployed a very large force in the area and gunfire and several explosions were heard.
Over the weekend the IDF carried out a wave of arrests in the West Bank, during which suspects were arrested for questioning in regards to terrorist activity.
A month ago a Palestinian suspect was shot and killed in Jenin.
Islam Tubasi, a Islamic Jihad member, was identified by the IDF while he was trying to escape during an arrest attempt and subsequently shot. Tubasi was evacuated for medical treatment and later succumbed to his wounds while hospitalized.
In August, three Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded during a clash with IDF soldiers in the Qalandiya refugee camp near Jerusalem. The deaths set off a wave of protests over Israel’s near-nightly arrests of Palestinian suspects in the West Bank.
The Associated Press and JTA contributed to this report.
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