'No hiding place for terrorists,' several politicians say

Israeli leaders applaud operation targeting terrorists behind rabbi’s murder

Netanyahu says security forces ‘will reach anyone who tries to harm citizens of Israel’; Shevach’s widow thanks troops, says ‘revenge doesn’t console us,’ calls to ‘build the land’

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Israeli security forces carry out raids in the West Bank city of Jenin in pursuit of the Palestinian killers of Israeli rabbi Raziel Shevach on January 18, 2018 (Israel Police)
Israeli security forces carry out raids in the West Bank city of Jenin in pursuit of the Palestinian killers of Israeli rabbi Raziel Shevach on January 18, 2018 (Israel Police)

Israeli leaders praised the work of security forces Thursday after a pre-dawn operation in Jenin killed a Palestinian terrorist believed to be behind last week’s fatal shooting of Israeli rabbi Raziel Shevach.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, currently on a trip to India, hailed the troops and warned any would-be terrorists that Israel would be on their tail.

“We will reach anyone who tries to harm the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel and we will bring them to justice,” the prime minister said.

In the Jenin firefight, Israeli forces killed one Palestinian terrorist, captured another and were still in pursuit of a third, a Border Police spokesman told The Times of Israel.

Hours later, the spokesman said the forces were still scanning the area for the third terrorist and that the operation was still ongoing.

Police said the Palestinian man killed was a suspect in the January 9 terrorist attack that killed Shevach.

“I am proud of, and full of appreciation for the best of our sons, working in relentless pursuit of the murderers of Rabbi Raziel Shevach,” President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement.

“I thank them and all the security forces [for] courageously and heroically taking part in this important operation. Our prayers are with the wounded soldiers and we send them strength and love,” the president added.

Israeli security forces carry out raids in the West Bank city of Jenin in pursuit of the Palestinian killers of Israeli rabbi Raziel Shevach on January 18, 2018 (Israel Police)

The Palestinian health ministry named the dead man as Ahmed Jarrar, 22. Palestinian media said he was the son of a senior Hamas military wing member Nasser Jarrar, who was killed by Israeli forces 16 years ago during the Second Intifada.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

The arrested Palestinian was also believed to be a member of the terror cell that gunned down Shevach on January 9 outside the northern West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad.

Echoing Netanyahu and Rivlin, the operation was lauded by politicians across the spectrum.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called the operation “complex and successful.”

“I congratulate the combat soldiers for their courage and wish them [the injured troops] a speedy recovery. The terrorists will not have a place to hide. We’ll get to the terrorists no matter where they are,” the defense minister said.

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

President Reuven Rivlin (second to left) makes a condolence visit to the family of Raziel Shevach in the Havat Gilad outpost on January 18, 2018. (Credit: Mark Nyman)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees the police, tweeted that “the entire nation of Israel salutes” the elite border police unit that carried out the operation in collaboration with the IDF and the Shin Bet security service.

He also sent well-wishes to the pair of injured officers.

From the opposition, Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay praised the “determined security forces that prove time and again that they reach every terrorist.”

“Let every terrorist and attacker know that the IDF and the security forces will reach him and will continue to defend the citizens of Israel with courage,” added Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid in a tweet.

The scene of a terror attack near the Havat Gilad Junction in the West Bank on January 9, 2018. (Magen David Adom)

On January 9, shortly before 8:00 p.m., 35-year-old father of six Shevach was driving in his car on the highway near his home in the Havat Gilad outpost when shots were fired at him from a passing car.

Shevach was shot in the neck, but managed to call his wife and tell her to call an ambulance.

He died of his injuries at a Kfar Saba hospital after receiving initial treatment by medics at the scene of the attack, the Havat Gilad Junction. Medics said he suffered a gunshot wound to his upper body and his condition deteriorated as he was taken to the hospital.

His widow, Yael Shevach, on Thursday thanked the security forces for their “determined action to capture the terrorists” and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded servicemen who acted “heroically.”

“Beyond that, this event has no meaning to me,” she added, according to Channel 10.

“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.”

On Sunday, Liberman submitted a proposal to the cabinet that would start the process of legalizing of the Havat Gilad outpost in the West Bank, where Shevach lived.

His family has called for the government to authorize the hilltop community southeast of Nablus and make it a full-fledged settlement in the aftermath of the lethal terror attack.

If adopted by the cabinet, the proposal would authorize the defense minister to instruct relevant government bodies to examine the legal aspects of recognizing Havat Gilad as an official settlement, a statement announcing the proposal said.

However, the outpost founded in 2002 may be more difficult to legalize than originally believed.

Most of the land on which the illegal outpost was constructed is privately owned Palestinian property, according to the IDF’s land registrar in the West Bank, the Haaretz daily reported Wednesday.

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