JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two teenage Palestinians from a West Bank village have been arrested for the murders of five members of the Fogel family of Itamar.
The Israeli military announced Sunday that Israeli security services – including the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and police – had arrested two teens from the nearby village of Awarta in connection with the brutal Sabbath eve murder in March.
Amjad Awad, 19, who worked as a laborer in Israel and Hakim Awad 18, a high school student reportedly both admitted to committing the murders. They also staged a reconstruction of the crime, AFP reported, citing a Shin Bet briefing document. Amjad Awad reportedly said that he went to Itamar to "die a martyr’s death",
Both suspects, who are not related to each other, have been identified as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as are several members of their family, though Israeli security services suspect the alleged murderers did not act on behalf of the terrorist organization.
Dozens of residents of Awarta had been detained by Israeli security services in recent weeks in an effort to identify the Fogels’ murderers.
“The murders of five family members including a 3-month-old baby constitute a crossing of all red lines. The IDF has invested in numerous operational and intelligence efforts, and has worked closely with other security forces in order to find those responsible for this vicious murder,” said IDF Spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich.
Udi Fogel, 36, and Ruth Fogel, 35, and their children Yoav, 11; Elad, 4; and Hadas, 3 months were stabbed to death in their beds on March 11. Two sons — Roi, 8, and Yishai, 2 — were sleeping in a side bedroom and were spared. A daughter, Tamar, 12, returned home at midnight from a youth group program to discover the massacre.
The family had been evacuated from Gush Katif and lived in Ariel before building a home in the northern West Bank community, near the Palestinian city of Nablus.