YERUSHALAYIM - A heavy shooting battle is underway in the village of Tzurif, after an IDF operation to arrest a Palestinian terrorist.
The IDF is not providing any details on the operation at this time, but Palestinian news outlets are reporting that the Israeli operation was undertaken to arrest Muhammad el-Fakia, an Islamic Jihad terrorist, who is accused of the July 1st terror attack near Chevron that killed Rabbi Michael Mark, Hy”d, and injured members of the Mark family.
When the IDF arrived at el-Fakia’s hiding place, he opened fire on the soldiers. The soldiers returned fire and killed him. Then, other Palestinian terrorists began firing on the Israeli soldiers from all directions.
The Palestinian news outlets are reporting that the IDF has sealed off and blacked out the village, which is located between Gush Etzion and Chevron, in Yehudah and Shomron. There are approximately 12 Palestinian casualties, including several dead.
Many Palestinians who have committed recent terror attacks have come from Tzurif, but the village’s terrorist activities go back as far as the founding of the State of Israel: In 1948, terrorists from Tzurif murdered the “Shayeret Halamed Heh” – a platoon of Israeli soldiers who were headed to Gush Etzion to relieve soldiers fighting during Israel’s War of Independence, when Gush Etzion was isolated, surrounded by Arabs. The brutality of the murders was shocking: The victims’ bodies were so badly mutilated that they could not be identified and had to be buried in a mass grave, R”l.