Palestinian Released in Shalit Swap Charged in Murder of Israeli Police Officer

Two Hamas operatives are suspected of opening fire on Baruch Mizrahi, who was killed while traveling with his family on the eve of the Passover holiday.

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Two Palestinians were charged Monday with the murder of a senior Israeli police officer. The two were arrested last month, Israel's security forces revealed after a gag order on the case was lifted.

Israel Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi was killed on April 14, on the eve of the Passover holiday, when a gunman fired on his car. Mizrahi and his wife, who was moderately wounded, were making their way to Kiryat Arba, where they were planning to celebrate the holiday. A 9-year-old boy who was riding in a nearby car was lightly hurt as well.

The two suspects are a father and son, both Hamas operatives, who reside in the Hebron region. The alleged gunman, Ziad Awadh, 42, was one of the prisoners released in October 2011 as part of the deal that secured the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity. Awadh was serving a life sentence for the murder of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. The son, Az Adin Awadh, 18, is said to have been the getaway driver.

According to the Shin Bet, Az Adin, the son, gave up the murder weapon – a Kalashnikov – and "divulged additional information that points to Ziad's involvement in the attack." Other suspects interrogated as part of the investigation said that Ziad purchased the motorbike and rifle in order to carry out the shooting. He scoped out the site of the attack a week ahead of time.

A senior Israeli official said the Awadhs' house would be demolished as a punitive measure, subject to court approval. The move would be part of a "new approach" adopted by the security establishment over the past couple of weeks, which also includes the re-arrest of prisoners released in the Shalit deal. The detainees are being brought before military committees that decide whether they will return to jail due to violation of the terms of their release.

"The arrest of the terrorist from Passover eve – a Hamas operative – underlines yet again that this is the same Hamas that carried out the kidnapping and with whom Abbas signed an accord," the official said. "Abbas needs to choose between peace with Israel and the treaty with Hamas.

The arrest stands as the most significant case brought against a prisoner freed in the Shalit deal so far.

The scene of the shooting, on the eve of Passover.Credit: AFP
Funeral of Chief Superintended Baruch Mizrahi in Jerusalem, April 16 2014.Credit: Reuters
Israel Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi, who was shot near Hebron on his way to a Passover Seder.Credit: Israel Police

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