Israel kills Palestinian after month-long manhunt
Israeli forces assassinate 22-year-old Ahmad Jarrar suspected of killing Jewish settler last January.
After a manhunt that lasted almost a month, Israeli forces have announced that they assassinated a Palestinian man suspected of being behind the killing of a Jewish settler last month.
Ahmad Jarrar, 22, went into hiding after Raziel Shevah was killed in a drive-by shooting near an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on January 9.
Before dawn on Tuesday, Jarrar was found by Israeli forces, which included the Shabak intelligence and elite units, in the village of Yamoun, some nine kilometres from his hometown of Jenin.
According to Israeli sources, security forces ordered Jarrar to come out of a building at around 3am (01:00 GMT). He allegedly emerged armed with an M-16 rifle and hand grenades, and was immediately hit with a barrage of bullets which resulted in his death.
His death was confirmed by the governor of Jenin on Tuesday morning.
“We received the news from Palestinian officials who work in the security coordination office,” Kamal Abu al-Rob, deputy governor of Jenin, told Al Jazeera.
“A number of his family members went to the site of his death, and were permitted by Israel to collect Jarrar’s bloodied clothes and a small Quran that were inside the building he allegedly was in,” he said.
Translation: You are our hope for Jerusalem
A purported picture of Jarrar circulated on social media showing him displayed in the mud, with a bloodied face and magazine clips around him.
Amer Jarrar, Ahmad’s cousin, arrived at the scene and was disturbed by what he saw.
“The building is an old small storage room that was destroyed on the outside,” he told Al Jazeera. “It was like the Israelis used a bulldozer to demolish parts of it because they didn’t want to get too close to it.”
“We saw the bloodied clothes,” he continued. “They were still dripping with blood. But when we found the Quran, which has an inscription to Ahmad from his mother, we knew it was him.”
Jarrar’s body was taken by Israeli forces, who have a policy of seizing bodies – a practice condemned by international law.
His family in the village of Wadi Burqin, just outside of Jenin, announced his death and opened a funeral home.
Jarrar was seven years old when his father, the Hamas leader Nasr Jarrar, was killed by Israeli forces during the second Intifada in August 2002.
He graduated from the American University of Jenin with a marketing degree, and according to Amer, had a large circle of friends and was well loved.
“We learned of his death this morning from the Israeli media,” he said. “We are stunned. None of us had any idea about his whereabouts.”
A day of mourning was declared in Jenin, as schools and shops shut down.
Protests broke out in Yamoun as hundreds of Palestinians confronted Israeli forces, who reportedly used live ammunition and caused at least eight injuries, including one in the head.
‘Pride of Palestine’
The pursuit of Jarrar resulted in almost daily raids of various towns and villages in the West Bank. On January 18, his cousin, Ahmad Ismail Jarrar, was killed after a 10-hour military operation in Wadi Burqin. Three houses belonging to the Jarrar family were also demolished.
On Sunday, the village was raided again, and a 19-year-old Palestinian was shot in the head and killed. Residents reported that the Israeli forces used loudspeakers to call out, “Ahmad Jarrar, turn yourself in or we will demolish the village house by house.”
On Tuesday, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent out a tweet praising Israeli forces.
“The score has been settled,” he said. “We appreciate and salute the security forces who in a complex operation and with courage fought for our security this morning.”
“The state of Israel will never surrender to terrorism and will get to the last of the accomplices for the safety of our citizens.”
In a statement, the Hamas movement paid tribute to Jarrar and called him “the pride of Palestine”.
“We will continue the path of resistance until the Israeli occupation is defeated from every inch of our land,” the statement said.
“We call upon the resistance of our people in the occupied West Bank to respond to the Israeli assassination of Jarrar and to target Israeli soldiers and settlers.”
The leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) faction echoed Hamas and described Jarrar as an “influential national symbol” that Palestinians will be proud of.
“His spirit will remain a beacon and a guide for all fighters who have followed the path of resistance, and his blood will curse all those who have resorted to the policy of security coordination,” the group said.
Follow Linah Alsaafin on Twitter at @LinahAlsaafin