Elite forces two weeks ago captured two terrorists who had infiltrated from the Gaza Strip during the October 7 assault, detaining them in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, nearly a month after they first entered the country, the Border Police and the Shin Bet security agency announced in a Monday statement.
The terrorists were arrested and detained for questioning, and no Israeli troops were hurt in the operation.
The two had infiltrated Israel from Gaza during Hamas’s surprise assault. which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages.
Rahat, just north of Beersheba, is some 30 kilometers (around 18.5 miles) from the Gaza Strip.
The statement gave no details on how the two terrorists reached Rahat, though Channel 12 reported that the pair was hiding out in the house of a local resident, who claimed not to have known they were terrorists on the run.
Channel 12 added that the arrests were not publicized in the past two weeks due to suspicions that the terrorists may have been planning another attack inside Israel.
The Shin Bet statement clarified that one of the detainees was a known Hamas operative, while the other had entered Israel along with hundreds of others after the Gaza border fence was breached on October 7.
Lahav 433, the Israel Police’s criminal investigation division, has been collecting evidence of murder, torture and other atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on October 7, in preparation for criminal prosecution. Investigators have been collecting testimonies and evidence, and interrogating the terrorists who were captured alive. Most details of the investigations are currently under a gag order.
News of the arrests earlier this month came hours after a Knesset committee hearing on legislating a death penalty for terrorism. The bill proposes that the only punishment for someone convicted of killing an Israeli citizen due to racist motivations or “hostility” to the Israeli public “in order to harm the State of Israel and the revival of the Jewish people in our land” would be the death penalty.
However, Deputy Attorney General Ran Nizri, representing the families of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza at Monday’s hearing, argued that current law allows for the death penalty against terrorists, a position supported earlier this week by former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.