Israeli troops shot dead Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, the suspected ringleader of a terrorist group responsible for a January attack that killed an Israeli rabbi, during a pre-dawn raid in the West Bank on Tuesday, the Shin Bet security service said.
His death brought to an end a nearly month-long manhunt for the perpetrators of the drive-by shooting that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six, on January 9 as he traveled down the highway outside the Havat Gilad illegal outpost where he lived.
According to the Shin Bet, troops from the Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet and Israel Police’s Special Patrol Unit arrived at the building where Jarrar was hiding in the village of Yamoun, near Jenin, early Tuesday morning, following a “determined and complicated intelligence and operational effort.”
When Jarrar, 22, exited the building, he was armed with an M-16 assault rifle and a bag of explosives, prompting the Israeli troops to open fire. The suspected terrorist ringleader was killed in the shootout, the Shin Bet said.
No Israeli troops were injured.
The IDF, which was responsible for the operational aspects of the mission, would not comment on whether Jarrar opened fire at the Israeli security forces during the raid.
A graphic photograph from the scene, which quickly spread on social media, showed a person who appeared to be Jarrar wearing an old Israeli military jacket, lying on the ground, covered in blood and surrounded by M-16 assault rifle ammunition cartridges.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the Israeli troops and vowed that security forces would next catch a terrorist who fled the scene of a Monday attack in which Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal was stabbed to death at a hitchhiking post in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
“Security forces will get to anyone who tries to harm Israeli citizens, and we will see that justice is served,” he said in a statement. “A few days ago I told Rabbi Raziel Shevach’s wife that we would get to the murderers, and last night the mission was completed. So it will also be with the murderers of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman released a similar statement.
“The account has been settled. I praise the IDF, Shin Bet, and Israel Police on their successful operation. It was clear that it was only a matter of time until we reached the head of the cell that murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach, may his memory be blessed. I hope and believe that that we will also soon get our hands on the murderer of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal,” Liberman said.
Shevach’s wife, Yael, was less enthusiastic, telling Army Radio that additional killing will not address the root problem.
“I understand the desire for account-settling, but when it comes with another killing, we haven’t solved the problem. So one person has been killed, what about the ones still waiting to kill another Jew?” Yael Shevach said.
In its announcement, the Shin Bet stressed that Jarrar had “personally taken part in the terror attack,” but would not say if he was the one who fired the gunshots that killed Shevach or if he had another role in the attack.
“The Shin Bet investigation learned that the cell was also involved in additional attempts to carry out terror attack and was planning to conduct more,” the security service said.
The Shin Bet said that its investigation into the cell’s activities is ongoing, but details of it are being kept secret under the military censor.
Shevach, a rabbi and volunteer medic, was remembered by friends as a “very special person” and beloved member of his community. “Just recently, he received a citation for his work in the [Magen David Adom ambulance] organization. He was the unofficial rabbi of Havat Gilad,” said his friend Yehuda Hass, who volunteered with Shevach.
President Reuven Rivlin praised the security forces who killed Jarrar for “fighting for our security this morning.”
“The State of Israel will never surrender to terrorism,” Rivlin tweeted on Tuesday.
In the weeks since the Havat Gilad terror attack, Israeli security forces have arrested several family members of Jarrar, as well as accomplices, in their attempts to located the elusive terrorist ringleader.
Jarrar himself was believed to have evaded capture during a January 18 operation in Jenin to arrest him and the other perpetrators of the attack.
During that raid, led by the Israel Police’s counterterrorism unit, security forces used a technique known as “pressure cooker,” in which troops use a number of high-intensity weapons and tools to disorient the suspects inside a house before knocking down a wall and entering the structure in full force.
A firefight broke out during that arrest raid. One suspect was killed and another was taken into custody.
However, Jarrar apparently succeeded in fleeing the scene. Israeli forces had been in pursuit of him ever since, with Liberman saying that he is “living on borrowed time.”
According to Hamas, the 22-year-old Jarrar is the son of Nassar Jarrar, who served as a senior Hamas commander in the West Bank and leader of the terror group’s forces in Jenin until he was killed by Israeli troops in 2002.
The father, born in 1958, was an early pioneer of Islamist-inspired terrorism against Israelis. He was imprisoned in 1978 after throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli bus in Jenin. He was released in 1988 and rearrested in 1994 for planning one of Hamas’s first suicide bombings on a bus in Hadera, in which six Israelis were killed and 30 were wounded.
After he was released from prison in 1998, Jarrar became a senior commander of Hamas’s forces during the Second Intifada of the early 2000s, which saw thousands of Israelis killed and wounded in terror attacks.
In 2001, the elder Jarrar lost both his legs and an arm while preparing a bomb, but remained active in planning attacks, including one at the Tel Hashomer Hospital outside Tel Aviv that wasn’t carried out. Israeli forces killed him in 2002 by shelling his hideout in Jenin.