Troops said besieging West Bank homes in hunt for Havat Gilad terrorist
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Troops said besieging West Bank homes in hunt for Havat Gilad terrorist

Palestinians say one person killed in clashes with soldiers taking part in day-long operation near Jenin to nab suspect behind murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

IDF troops operate in the Jenin area on February 3, 2018 in pursuit of Ahmad Jarrar, a suspect in the killing of Rabbi Raziel Shevach. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the Jenin area on February 3, 2018 in pursuit of Ahmad Jarrar, a suspect in the killing of Rabbi Raziel Shevach. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli security forces surrounded two houses in the West Bank village of Burqin on Saturday as they continued the hunt for the terrorist suspected of the killing of an Israeli rabbi last month, Palestinian media reported, adding that one protester died of wounds sustained in clashes with IDF soldiers during the operation.

Footage shared widely on Palestinian social media showed a convoy of IDF bulldozers and other demolition vehicles driving into the village west of Jenin.

In a Saturday evening statement, the IDF acknowledged the raid was part of the hunt for the killers of Rabbi Raziel Shevach but gave no details beyond saying that  security forces had apprehended several suspects during raids over the weekend.

“The investigation of the attack and operational activities in the village of Burqin, West of Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp, are ongoing,” the statement concluded.

IDF troops operate in the Jenin area in pursuit of Ahmed Jarrar, the Palestinian who murdered Raziel Shevach, on February 3, 2018.

Palestinian media outlets reported that Israeli forces were threatening to demolish the homes if the owners did not turn over Ahmad Nassar Jarrar — the suspected leader of the terror cell that shot and killed 35-year-old father of six Rabbi Raziel Shevach on January 9, as he drove on a highway near his home in the Havat Gilad outpost.

Channel 10 reported that among those arrested Saturday were his Jarar’s wife and father.

When the IDF troops arrived at the village they were confronted with Palestinian youths throwing stones at them.

One man, Ahmad Abu-Obeid, 19, died after being shot in the head Saturday during a stone-throwing confrontation with troops, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Red Crescent said five other protesters were injured by rubber-coated bullets in the same incident.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment about the casualty, but said it was looking into reports of the injuries.

The raid on Burqin came hours after troops surrounded a different home in the nearby city of Jenin. There too, the soldiers were searching for Jarar.

Palestinian residents reported heavy military presence and said soldiers, using loudspeakers, called for Jarrar’s surrender.

The Ynet news site reported that troops arrested four people during the raid, including two members of the Jarrar family. On January 23, Israeli troops arrested Jarrar’s brother Suhaib Nassar Jarrar.

Ynet also then reported military activity and raids in several nearby villages as part of the operation.

Then as well, the military declined to comment on the operation.

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

Jarrar himself is believed to have evaded capture during a January 18 operation to arrest him in Jenin. In an operation 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.

Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, 22, alleged head of the terror cell who shot dead Rabbi Raziel Shevach in the West Bank on January 9 (Twitter)

A firefight broke out during the arrest raid. One suspect was killed and another was taken into custody. Two police officers were wounded, one of them seriously.

However, Jarrar apparently succeeded in fleeing the scene. Israeli forces have been in pursuit of him ever since, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman saying that he is “living on borrowed time.”

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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