Israeli forces have tracked down and killed a Palestinian militant responsible for murdering an Israeli rabbi in the occupied West Bank, authorities have said.
Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a 35-year-old father of six, was killed in a driveby shooting on January 9 near his home in the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Gilad. He was the second rabbi to have been murdered in the West Bank in as many days, in seemingly unrelated attacks.
Israel launched a wide manhunt for the killers of Mr Shevach and Israeli troops raided the village of Yamoun in northern West Bank at dawn on Tuesday.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of MI5, said that Israeli troops killed Ahmed Nassar Jarrar, "the principal operative in the terrorist cell" responsible for the rabbi’s murder.
"During the attempt to arrest him, Jarrar emerged armed from the structure in Yamoun in which he was hiding and was shot by the security forces. An M-16 [assault rifle] and a pack with explosives were discovered on his person," the Shin Bet said.
Two Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets during clashes in the village following the raid, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
One other Palestinian man has been killed and several others arrested for alleged involvement in Rabbi Shevach’s killing and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said the hunt was now over.
"Several days ago I told Rabbi Raziel Shevach’s widow that we would catch the murderers and last night the mission was completed," he said.
But even as Mr Netanyahu announced success in the search, Israeli forces were carrying out a second manhunt for the killer of the second rabbi.
Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, a 29-year-old father of four, was stabbed to death on Monday as he waited at a bus stop near the settlement of Ariel, also in the West Bank.
His killer was identified by Israeli security services as Abed al-Karim Assi, a 19-year-old Palestinian with Israeli citizenship.
Assi was reportedly able to escape from the scene of the killing, even after an Israeli military officer rammed him with his car. Israeli forces were hunting for him on Tuesday.
Assi’s Israeli citizenship allows him freer movement in both Israel and the West Bank, whereas most Palestinians from the West Bank are unable to enter Israel.
While the shooting of Rabbi Shevach appears to have been the work of an organised cell, the killing of Rabbi Ben-Gal appears to be the work of a "lone wolf" armed with a knife.
The two rabbis knew each other but there does not appear to be any connection between their deaths.
"The security forces will catch whoever tries to attack Israeli citizens and we will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law. So it will be with the murderers of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal," said Mr Netanyahu.
20 years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies. Instead, a man from Har Bracha was just murdered by a terrorist, leaving behind a wife and four children. Palestinian “leaders” have praised the killer. Praying for the BenGal family
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) February 6, 2018
David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, accused Palestinian leaders of praising the attack.
Mr Friedman is a longtime supporter of Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal by most of the international community, and said that he had once donated an ambulance to Har Bracha, the settlement where Rabbi Ben-Gal lived.
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