Israeli forces hunting the killers of a rabbi raided a West Bank home before dawn Thursday, killing a wanted Palestinian in a firefight that also wounded two Israeli officers, one seriously, officials said.
The raid capped a police and army hunt for the suspect in a drive-by shooting last week that killed a rabbi from an Israeli settlement outpost in the West Bank, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
The wanted man was killed and another man was arrested in the raid in the West Bank town of Jenin, said Rosenfeld.
Israeli media identified the Palestinian as Ahmed Jarrar, an activist in the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Jarrar’s relatives said Israeli forces demolished three homes belonging to the extended family with bulldozers and damaged a fourth one in the process.
The fugitive’s mother, Khitam, told The Associated Press that she heard “extensive shooting” outside her home Wednesday evening and that Israeli forces ordered her and others out of her home.
She said she saw a dead body in the front yard as she walked out, and asked the troops who it was, but wasn’t given an answer. She said her son had left the family home about 30 to 40 minutes before the start of the raid, and that she still didn’t know if he was dead or not.
Khitam Jarrar said soldiers fired rockets at the house and then demolished it with bulldozers after it was evacuated. Two other homes belonging to Ahmed’s uncles were also demolished and a third was damaged, family members said.
The Israeli military said Palestinians hurled improvised explosive devices, cement blocks and rocks at troops who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire.Rosenfeld said two police officers were wounded, one of them seriously.
The army said the operation ended Thursday morning.
Israel had launched a manhunt for the killers of Rabbi Raziel Shevah, 35, who was shot multiple times from a passing vehicle as he drove in the West Bank last week.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement praising Israeli forces. “We will reach anyone who tries to harm the citizens of Israel and we will bring them to justice,” he said, while on a visit to India.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called the operation “complex and successful” and warned that: “Terrorists will have no place to hide. We will reach terrorists everywhere.”
Hamas hailed the dead man, calling him a “hero who was killed in direct combat.” Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri warned that the “Jenin cell is not the first and will not be the last.”
The attack took place near Havat Gilad, a settlement outpost near Nablus where Shevah lived. The isolated community of a few hundred Israelis is located deep inside the West Bank.
After the attack, Israel’s military set up roadblocks, cordoned off Palestinian villages and deployed reinforcements to the area searching for suspects.
The West Bank, captured by Israel in 1967 and sought by the Palestinians for a future state, is dotted with dozens of Israeli-government sanctioned settlements as well as unauthorized settler outposts that Israeli authorities have allowed to thrive.