Suspects in Asheri Murder Caught in Ramallah Operation

Three Palestinian suspects in the murder of the youth Eliyahu Asheri surrendered without opposition to IDF forces in Ramallah during the early morning hours yesterday.

The three, members of Fatah who acted on orders from the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip, had sought refuge inside a Palestinian police station in the neighborhood of al-Balu'a in Ramallah.

The IDF has termed this sort of behavior by Palestinian militants as "defensive incarceration," in which they seek to avoid possible assassination or capture by Israel.

An IDF force surrounded the building and the three suspects were under siege for three hours, after the Palestinian security forces failed to act on a request by the head of Central Command, Major General Yair Naveh, to turn them over to Israel.

Naveh said yesterday that once it became clear that the three were in the police building, they decided to move in with forces. The siege ended following negotiations with the Palestinian police, and the three surrendered without a fight.

The 18-year old Asheri, resident of the West Bank Itamar settlement, was kidnapped from the bus stop at the Ofra junction ten days ago. One of the suspects drove the abducted youth to Ramallah, where three other militants joined them.

According to information that surfaced during the suspect's questioning, he had waited at the bus stop for a potential victim. The suspect had been driving a car with Israeli license plates and appeared innocuous.

Prior to Asheri, two others, a young woman and a man, who had asked for a ride were turned down.

After Asheri entered the vehicle, the suspect drove for a little while and then pulled to the side of the road and hit him in the head with a pistol. The suspect tied Asheri's hands with a cable and continued toward Ramallah. In the city, the kidnappers moved Asheri between different locations for about an hour before executing him.

"One of the kidnappers murdered him in cold blood with the use of a pistol at close range, using a pillow to minimize the noise. He was later buried in the ground," Naveh told reporters yesterday.

The fourth suspect in the Asheri case was arrested last Wednesday and his questioning resulted in finding Asheri's body later in the evening.

"We failed to bring the lad safely home, but we closed the case," Naveh concluded.