TEL AVIV – Israeli security forces have arrested a Palestinian suspected of killing two IDF soldiers outside the West Bank settlement of Givat Asaf last month, Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Tuesday morning.
Asam Barghouti was arrested in a joint operation by the IDF, Israel Police and Shin Bet in the West Bank village of Abu Shukheidim, ending a month-long manhunt that ensued after Barghouti fled the scene of the attack, the agency said in a statement.
He was found in the home of an associate and in possession of an AK-47 rifle, large amounts of ammunition and night vision equipment, the agency said. According to the Shin Bet, he had been planning more attacks against Israeli targets.
Barghouti is suspected of killing St.-Sgt. Yuval Mor Yosef and Sgt. Yosef Cohen in the December 13 attack. Two more Israelis were wounded, a civilian woman and another IDF soldier, Netanel Felber, who remains in critical condition.
The terrorist also carried out another attack in the vicinity days earlier with his brother Salah Barghouti, in which they opened fire on seven Israelis in a drive-by-shooting attack near the settlement of Ofra, the Shin Bet said. In that attack, a heavily pregnant woman was shot and her baby delivered prematurely. The child died three days later.
Salah Barghouti was killed as he attempted to attack IDF forces during his arrest two days later on December 11.
“The arrest by the Israel Security Agency and soldiers from the Yamam Brigade was the culmination of an intelligence and operational effort that began immediately after the attack, during which the Shin Bet and the IDF used intelligence, operational and technological capabilities to locate the terrorist,” the Shin Bet said in the statement.
The statement also said that “dozens of operatives and accomplices” from the West Bank arm of terror group Hamas have been arrested.
“We had no doubt that we would reach Asam Barghouti and arrest him,” Commander N. of the Yamam Unit said. “The cooperation of the Yamam Unit with various security forces, including the General Security Service, is the one that brings impressive operational successes and the one who will continue to ensure that no lowly murderer will escape the long arm of the Yamam.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded security forces for the arrest.
“I commend the [Israel Police] special anti-terror unit, the IDF and especially the ISA, which is the best counter-terrorism organization of its kind in the world. We owe it much. It does its work with professionalism and dedication,” he said in a statement.
“The long hand of Israel will reach all those who harm our citizens, and the State of Israel will bring them to justice,” Netanyahu added.
However, former defense minister Avigdor Liberman said that it was a shame the ruling Likud party had “torpedoed” a bill allowing the death penalty for terrorists proposed by his party, Yisrael Beiteinu.
“This is the classic case in which it is regrettable that the death penalty for terrorists was not instituted,” he stated.
Culture Minister Miri Regev also praised the security forces.
“The State of Israel proves every time that it will not rest until it reaches every terrorist and closes the account with them,” she said in a statement. “Our enemies will know that all those who seek to harm us will be watched by our security forces and the account with them will be closed.”