During an exchange of fire with Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed two Hamas men who took part in the Kiryat Arba shooting attack which resulted in the death of four Israelis.
In a joint operation of the IDF, police, and the Shin Bet, troops surrounded the house near Kiryat Arba in which the militants were hiding out in an attempt to arrest the wanted men. A shootout erupted and Israeli troops used bulldozers to coax the militants out of the building.
Two militants, Mamun Natashe and Nasat al-Karmi, were killed during the operation. There were no Israeli casualties. Six additional Hamas men were arrested with a number of weapons in their possession.
The two militants were part of the Hamas terror cell that was responsible for killing four Israelis nearly six weeks ago and the men have been wanted for their involvement in several other attacks against Israelis.
Over a month ago, four Israelis were killed when gunmen opened fire on their car at the entrance to Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, in the West Bank.
The attack occurred at around 7:30 P.M. on Route 60, when shots were fired at a vehicle just south of Kiryat Arba. Preliminary reports showed the gunmen approached the vehicle and shot the victims multiple times at point-blank range.
The victims were all residents of the settlement of Beit Hagai in the southern Hebron Hills.
Following the Kiryat Arba attack, security forces have been arresting a number of Hamas activists in the West Bank, in an attempt to find members of the terror cell responsible for the attack.
The Shin Bet investigated hundreds of detainees over the last month, and the IDF operation on Friday was made possible due to these investigations wherein the names and location of the Hamas men were found.
The two wanted men, Mamun Natashe and Nasat al-Karmi, were considered terrorists "with blood on their hands," for their involvement in several shooting attacks in the West Bank. Both have served jail sentences in Israeli prisons.
Al-Karmi, 33, was once a leader in the military wing of Hamas in Hebron. Al-Karmi was first arrested in 1999 and released shortly afterwards. In 2004 he was sentences to five years in prison and was released in August of 2009. He was then arrested again in December of 2009 for three months. Natshe, 24, was arrested in 2008 for several months.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the IDF for putting to justice the terrorists "who made seven children orphans in Beit Hagai," adding that "the State of Israel will continue to hunt down terrorists everywhere."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also commended the operation, saying that "IDF and security forces [must] continue to act firmly against terror organizations in order to ensure the safety of those living in the West Bank territories."
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah in a bloody 2007 coup and has adamantly opposed the resumption of direct peace negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.