Israeli infantry troops from the Nahal and Golani brigades, reinforced by Border Policemen and other ancillary military forces, swept into Nablus on Sunday in what is described as the largest Israeli military operation since Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002. At that time, Israeli armed forces re-entered Arab villages and Arab cities after 130 Arab terror attacks occurred during March 2002 alone.

Israeli troops placed the center of Nablus under curfew Sunday and began to search for wanted men and bomb factories, reportedly finding some of both. This large scale operation is named “Hot Winter.”

Soldiers were stationed outside of hospitals in Nablus so as to prevent wanted men from finding sanctuary among the ill and ailing. According to Israeli media reports, the operation is expected to last an unspecified number of days.

IDF forces blew up an explosives laboratory that was discovered by combatants of the Nahal reconnaissance battalion.

In the laboratory, which was discovered in the center of Nablus, a LAW rocket was found, along with five pipe bombs, a large explosive charge, four sacks of fertilizer for preparing explosive charges and two bottles of explosives. The laboratory was discovered in the home of Bassam Abu Saraya, nicknamed “Gaddafi,” commander of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the casbah.

IDF jeeps with loudspeakers called upon the residents not to approach the activity areas, and announced a curfew in various areas of the city.

In addition, IDF forces took control of the frequencies of four local radio stations and eight local television stations, and used them to broadcast messages to the residents and to call out against terror.

The residents were told to stay away from the areas in which the IDF forces were operating, and the six wanted men who are the cause of the operation were called on to turn themselves in.

Mahmoud Abbas’s bureau issued a statement sharply condemning the operation in Nablus, claiming that the operation is aimed at harming the efforts to form a Palestinian national unity government.

Hamas headquarters also issued a statement of condemnation for the operation, which Hamas says is intended to sabotage Palestinian unity.

Arabs Murder Jew At Prayer

Erez Levanon, a 42-year-old Israeli singer/composer and Chasidic Jew, was stabbed to death yesterday while he was praying less than 30 meters from his home in Bat Ayin. That town is located halfway between Jerusalem and Hebron.

Levanon used to seclude himself in prayer three times a day, and this apparently is how Palestinians encountered and murdered him.  

More than 20 stab wounds were found on Levanon’s body. After the murder, his killers threw his body into a nearby ravine. Levanon is survived by a wife and three children.

Following up on a lead, security forces raided the building and found the killers.

The two 18-year-old Palestinian Arabs readily admitted to the murder. The two suspects were identified as Khader Abu Daya and Moussa Khalil.

In their interrogation, the two confessed to carrying out the murder, which they said was planned earlier, including patrols of the area. On the day of the attack, the two left their village in possession of knives, and after spotting Levanon, they ambushed him and said that they stabbed him to death for “nationalistic motives.”

‘An Exemplary Family Man’

Levanon’s funeral procession left the Bat Ayin synagogue yesterday afternoon, and he was laid to rest at the Kfar Etzion cemetery.

Levanon kept a routine schedule of Bible studies, and spent one hour each day at a secluded location communing with God.

His friend, Rabbi Michi Yossefi, said that Levanon was apparently murdered while praying at his usual spot.

“Erez was an exemplary family man, who managed to reach a wonderful balance between his work and his home. He wasn’t someone who stood out, but a very modest man,” Yossefi said.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il.

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.