The two main Palestinian terrorists behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youth in June were found and killed by Israeli security forces, Israeli officials announced Tuesday morning.
Marwan Kawasme, 29, and Amer Abu Aysha, 32, were both killed in a firefight during their attempted arrest by Israeli authorities near Hebron. The sting operation to arrest the two terrorists occurred in the overnight hours between Monday and Tuesday, the IDF confirmed.
“We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange,” IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. “We have visual confirmation for one. The second one, we have no visual confirmation, but the assumption is he was killed.”
A Hamas’ spokesperson, Hussam Barduan, confirmed the killings, saying “Two members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, were killed after a long life of sacrifice and giving. This is the way of the resistance and we follow in its wake step after step.”
The operation was carried out by a joint task force comprised of the army, Shin Bet and troops from the Yarman police counter-terrorism unit. The Shin Bet said that they received information that led security officials to the hiding places of the two Hamas terrorists.
At approximately 3 am, security forces surrounded the home where the two terrorists were believed to be hiding. A firefight broke out in which Kawasme and Abu Aysha were killed. A bulldozer was used to destroy the home with the terrorists still in it.
Channel 10 reported that over the last several weeks, the two terrorists have eluded capture on several occasions.
“We have been pursuing these two since the abduction,” said Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig. Gen. Tamir Yadai. “Last night the investigation ripened as regards to their location and we have been surrounding the place where they have been hiding since 1 am. We killed them and there are arrests of several other collaborators.”
According to Yadai, the IDF began to apply the “pressure cooker protocol on the house. The two terrorists are believed to have been staying in the location where they were killed for the last few days. Weapons like M-16’s, a Kalashnikov and handguns belonging to the terrorists were found by security forces.
Both Kawasme and Abu Aysha have deep ties to the Hamas terrorist organization. Hamas initially denied any involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16. However, last month, the terror group revealed that the entirety of the terrorist attack was masterminded by Hamas leaders.
The bodies of the three youth were found partially buried in a field outside Hebron three weeks after their abduction from a hitchhiking post in Judea.
Kawasme’s brother Hussam was arrested on July 11 by the Shin Bet for his involvement in the plot. Under interrogation it was revealed that Hussam was one of the masterminds of the operation, including planning the attack and buying the plot of land where the bodies were found ahead of time. Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, transferred funds from Gaza and abroad to the terrorists to carry out the attack.
In total, eight Hamas terrorists have been arrested by Israeli security services in connection with the attack.