Last March 12, Israelis learned that, the night before, terrorists had broken into a home in the West Bank community of Itamar and murdered five members of the Fogel family—the parents, 11- and 4-year-old boys, and a 3-month-old girl. Sunday, the eve of Passover, brought the relieving news that the two terrorists had been nabbed by combined intelligence, army, and police forces. So had six accomplices who helped them hide the murder weapons and suppress evidence.
The two perpetrators are Hakim Mazen Awad, 18, a high school student, and Amjad Mahmad Awad, 19, also a student (the two are not directly related, though from the same clan). As expected, they’re from Awarta, a Palestinian village of 8,000 that is considered a “breeding ground for terror” and neighbors Itamar (pop. 1,000). Acting without leads, in the course of the investigation the Israeli forces detained hundreds of Awarta residents before fingering the culprits and their helpers.
Although the two murderers have links to the Popular Front—a terror organization considered “secular” and not Islamist—it’s believed at this point that they did not act under its auspices. Terror, however, runs in the family for both of them. Among the suspected accomplices are Hakim’s father and one of his uncles, both from Awarta and the latter a Popular Front member (and the former as well, according to one report). As for Amjad, an uncle of his was involved in a 2002 terror attack on Itamar that killed five; the next year he was killed in a clash with the Israeli army.
The story that’s now been pieced together is this: on Friday night, March 11, the two perpetrators snuck into Itamar armed with knives, then broke into an empty house beside the Fogel house and stole an M-16 rifle there. Next, through the window of the Fogel house, they saw 11-year-old Yoav and 4-year-old Elad asleep. They broke in immediately and stabbed them to death.
They then went to the bedroom of the parents, Ehud and Ruth, and when they fought back, shot them dead. The shots weren’t heard because of weather conditions.
Hakim and Amjad then exited the house, saw a patrol car, hurried back in, and heard 3-month-old Hadas crying. They slit her throat to keep her quiet, then managed to steal back to Awarta.
Officers of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, said the two gave a “chilling reenactment” that was one of the most “shocking, cold, remorseless and detailed” they had ever witnessed. Amjad said his motivation was to “die a martyr’s death.” Two other Fogel boys, eight-year-old Roi and two-year-old Yishai, were also sleeping in the house but were spared because the intruders didn’t notice them. The latter said, however, that they “would not have hesitated to kill them, as well.”
Lt.-Col. Nimrod Aloni, commander of the brigade responsible for the area, warned that West Bank terror organizations have “high motivation” and that “we have a long, hard war ahead of us.” A security source said the two killers “received much support from family members and friends in their environment.”
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