Ziad Awad, released in Shalit deal, accused of shooting off-duty police officer Baruch Mizrahi; suspect’s son also held; PM orders their home demolished
A Hamas operative released under the 2011 exchange for Gilad Shalit has been arrested for gunning down Baruch Mizrahi near Hebron on Passover eve, the Shin Bet security service announced on Monday, after a gag order on the case was lifted.
The cabinet ruled the suspect will have his home demolished, pending the approval of the High Court of Justice, a diplomatic official said Monday. His son was also arrested, and the two were indicted Monday.
“I gave the directive to destroy the home of the terrorist, a Hamas man, as part of the general effort to combat Hamas,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, praising the security services for what he called the speedy process of tracking down the killer.
Ziad Awad and his son Izz Eddin Hassan Ziad Awad were arrested on May 7 by the Israel Police’s elite counter-terrorism unit in collaboration with the Shin Bet security service for the April 14 shooting of the 47-year-old father of five. The senior Awad is accused of carrying out the shooting, while his son allegedly assisted him in planning the shooting and coordinating the escape.
The younger Awad, 18, handed over the Kalashnikov rifle used to kill Mizrahi during the interrogation, and provided information implicating his father in the shooting, a Shin Bet statement said.
The two are residents of the Palestinian village of Idhna, and during the course of an investigation confessed that the elder Ziad Awad had purchased the motorcycle and the Kalashnikov and scouted out the scene a week prior to the attack. He was said to have acted strangely both immediately before and after the killing.
The shooting was religiously motivated, the Shin Bet said, with the elder Awad telling his son that “according to Islam, whoever kills a Jew goes to heaven.”
Awad, who spent 12 years in an Israeli prison for the murder of Palestinian collaborators with Israel, was released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange for Shalit before completing his term. Over 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners were freed to secure the release of Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in a 2006 raid into southern Israel, who was held hostage in Gaza.
Noam Shalit, the father of the freed soldier, told the Ynet news website Monday that “we didn’t assemble the list of released prisoners, nor did we demand the release of these inmates or any others.”
Dozens of other Hamas men freed in the Shalit deal have been arrested in recent days in the West Bank for breaching the terms of their release, as Israel searches for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped, allegedly by Hamas, on June 12.