In perfect timing for Rosh Hashana, in a kind of Divine settling of accounts before the year ends, the murderers of the three teens, Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shayer and Naftali Frenkel, were killed in a firefight with IDF forces during an attempt to arrest them.
Marwan Kawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha of Hevron, who abducted and murdered three yeshiva boys Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’ar, Naftali Frenkel in June, were located and killed in exchange of gunfire early Tuesday morning.
The operation was carried out by the Yamam, a special unit of the Border Police, and the IDF, in Hevron. An attempt was made to arrest the suspects but an exchange of fire developed in which they were killed.
The operation was made possible by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which located the murderers’ hideout. In the last few days, several Hamas suspects were arrested and questioned on the assumption that they were assisting the fugitives.
“We have been pursuing these two since the abduction,” said Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig. Gen. Tamir Yadai. “Last night the investigation ripened as regards their location and we have been surrounding the place where they were hiding since 1:00 a.m. We killed them and there are arrests of several other collaborators.”
“We began areesting suspects and at the same time we applied [IDF] ‘pressure cooker’ protocol on the house. It is a big house and they hid out in a secret arms store on the basement floor. The floor is not visible from the outside. At one stage they went outside and opened fire. One was shot and the other fell inside, into a hole.”
“There was use of weapons, like hand grenades and the deployment of explosives that were prepared ahead of time,” he added. “We know that they have been staying in this location quite a lot in the last few days. We know for certain that they were not here the whole time. They had weapons like M-16s, a Kalachnikov and handguns, too.”
Kawasmeh’s close relative Hussam was arrested in Jerusalem in August for planning the attack, which was carried out physically by Marwan, along with Amer Abu-Eisha.
The abduction and murder reportedly was planned by a third Kawasmeh, Mahmoud, along with Hussam, under the support of Hamas’s military branch, the Al-Qassam Brigades, through their branches both in Gaza and abroad.
The Brigades transferred funds via Mahmoud to purchase a car with an Israeli license plate, weapons and hideouts which were arranged in advance,according to security sources. They added that the three Israeli teens were buried on land purchased by the Kawasmeh family long before the attack. Hussam admitted in investigation to having shaven his beard off and obtained a forged passport in an attempt to flee the country to Jordan.
The three boys are believed to have been murdered very shortly after being kidnapped; one source close to the murder investigation said a recording of a call made by one of the boys as he was being kidnaps provides crucial evidence that the murder had been pre-planned from the very start.
The source claimed the kidnappers used a silenced weapon, indicating their attempt to actually use the gun, and dressed up as religious Jews to lure the victims into their car.
On hearing the news, Rachel Frenkel, the mother of Naftali, expressed a sense of relief:
“Throughout the period [after the murders], there were two people going around there with two pistols and automatic weapons, who have nothing to lose,” she recounted to Walla! News Tuesday morning. “We were afraid that more innocent people would be hurt, and we are pleased that this was resolved without any injuries to our soldiers.”
“We know that the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency – ed.] and the military were working on it intensely,” she added. “I’m glad they were able to accomplish their mission without harming soldiers.”
Reactions from military officials and MKs have begun to pour in as well.
“On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Operation Brothers’ Keeper – which began Friday, June 13, 2014 and continued with determination since then – came to an end,” IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Monday. “We promised the Sha’ar, Yifrah, and Frenkel families that we would get to their children’s murderers, and we did that this morning.”
The Chief of Staff thanked the soldiers and officers who worked constantly to find the murderers, adding that “there is no consolation to the families mourning this difficult loss, but I hope that they are somewhat relieved upon receiving news that we hit their children’s murderers.”
Their relief is echoed by all of us. Kol hakavod to the IDF, the Shin Bet and all the other Israeli agencies involved in the search for these murderers.
May the coming year bring us only good news.