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