JERUSALEM (Jul. 9)
A large unit of the Israel Defense Force entered the Arab village of Surif in the Judaean hills early this morning and demolished two houses owned by alleged terrorists who reportedly have confessed the murders of an Israeli man and woman two weeks ago. A third building was sealed off and a curfew was imposed on the West Bank village.
The IDF acted in accordance with the long established policy of destroying the homes or shelters of confessed terrorists. But the early morning raid infuriated the villagers because the two suspects, though said to have confessed, have not yet been brought to trial. The demolitions were carried out without disturbances.
The murder victims were Meir Ben Yair and Michal Cohen, both of Beit-Shemesh, who were found dead in a car parked in the Massua forest, east of the Etzion bloc of settlements. Both were married, but not to each other, a situation that led police to suspect a crime of passion. Cohen’s husband was held as a suspect for several days but was released when his alibi proved out.
The police then turned their attention toward terrorist gangs known to be operating in the region. Despite the arrest of two suspects from Surif, security forces continued their manhunt. Infantry aided by helicopters combed the area and several other suspects were detained.
There have been several attacks on Israeli buses on the Jerusalem-Hebron highway in recent months and attempted attacks on Israeli vehicles on the Hebron-Yarra road.