Israel's manhunt for the Hamas terrorists responsible for the latest string of West Bank attacks ended Friday, Oct. 8 in a gun battle in Hebron and the deaths of Hamas' West Bank commander Nashat Al-Karmi and his lieutenant Mamoun Al-Natshe, thereby snapping Hamas' militant backbone in the territory and cutting short its drive to sabotage Israel-Palestinian talks with violence. debkafile's counter-terror sources report that the Hamas cell leader smuggled in from Syria for the drive-by attacks which killed four Israelis and injured two others, managed to escape. The pursuit for him continues.
The two were killed when Israeli troops backed by Shin Bet operatives, air cover and the police anti-terror squad closed in on three Hebron houses in which the wanted Hamas terrorists were holed up and refused to surrender. One of the houses was bulldozed and several occupants detained.
debkafile's counter-terror sources reveal: Nashat Al-Karmi, aged 34, was born in Hebron and lived there with his wife. He graduated from the local college with a degree in technological engineering. His first brush with Israeli troops occurred in 1999 when he was picked up in a counter-terror swoop and spent three years in jail. In 2004 he suffered a serious gunshot wound to the stomach and was confined to a wheelchair.
Exceptionally secretive, Al-Karmi escaped having his photo taken, never used a telephone or even a cell and preferred to go into terrorist action solo.
On Sept. 17, an Israeli unit raid on the Nur al-Shams refugee camp near Tulkarm, failed to discover Al-Karmi but killed another Hamas operative.
Our intelligence sources disclose that the Hamas terrorist showed his hand once too often this year in a shooting attack on two Israeli vehicles at the Omarim junction south of Hebron on Sept. 26, in which two Israelis were injured. The attack took place on the day Israel's settlement construction freeze expired. It was clearly the work of a lone shooter, Al-Karmi's most distinctive hallmark, and gave his Israeli pursuers a solid lead to the hand behind the latest outbreak of terrorist activity on the West Bank.
debkafile's sources stress that by wiping out Hamas' top West Bank command, Israel has also shown up as spurious Hamas' latest propaganda effort to demonstrate its superiority to Israel's Shin Bet and claim to have smashed Israel's covert networks in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leaders were about to hold a news conference and lay out an array of covert gadgets, specially-rigged walkie-talkies and telephones, electronic bugs and surveillance gear, claiming they had been found in the possession of Shin Bet undercover agents. This campaign took several months to set up. It hit a high point Thursday, the day before Israel's Hebron operation, when the Egyptian Al Ahram ran a story describing how Hamas unmasked an Israeli agent who had penetrated top Hamas ranks and hoped to find the secret prison where Gilead Shalit, the Israeli soldier Hamas kidnapped in 2006 is held.
Al Ahram appended its own epilogue to the Hamas tale. The Shin Bet pulled its agent out of the Gaza Strip before Hamas security officials could lay hands on him, said the Cairo paper. Clearly, Egypt is not inclined to let Hamas get away with posing as masters of intelligence. While Hamas has vowed revenge for the Israeli operation in Hebron, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak congratulated the army and Shin Bet unit for their success in hunting down the terrorists who murdered Yitzhak and Talia Imus, Cochava Even-Haim and Avishi Schindler of Beit Haggai on the road near the Ben-Naim junction near Hebron on Aug. 31. A second attack left a couple seriously injured.