VIDEO - Palestinian sources said early Tuesday that the three al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members suspected of kidnapping and murdering settler teen Eliyahu Asheri have given themselves up to IDF forces in Ramallah after a three-hour standoff.
The suspects barricaded themselves inside a local police station before surrendering; IDF forces have started to retreat from the area.
Palestinian sources told Ynet that several dozen soldiers, about 30 military jeeps, as well as tanks and bulldozers took part in the operation, which began at around midnight.
Sporadic exchanges of fire were reported at the scene, and IDF snipers took up positions on nearby rooftops.
The Fatah members were trapped in the station after being arrested by Palestinian police.
The activists were arrested by Palestinian police a few days after Asheri's kidnapping due to suspicions that they were involved in the abduction.
PRC claimed responsibility
At first they were held in a police station close to the PA's Ramallah headquarters (Mukata), but they escaped and were again arrested three days ago.
After the second arrest it was decided to hold them at the police's central headquarters in the city, not far from the command and control center at Beit El.
The Popular Resistance Committees (PLC) initially claimed responsibility for the attack, and an initial Shin Bet investigation revealed that the abduction was carried out by a Tanzim cell with links to the PLC, but later it became known that the kidnapping was planned and carried out by Fatah members.
The suspects have been identified as Hamza Taktuk, Hiam Qamangi and Bassam Qatiyeh, all al-Aqsa Brigades activists and Palestinian Preventive Security force members.
Sources said the IDF called on the suspects to surrender and threatened to level the structure. It was also reported that IDF snipers took up positions on nearby rooftops.
Last Thursday IDF soldiers discovered Asheri’s body in Ramallah’s Tira neighborhood.
A large Shin Bet and IDF force arrived at the neighborhood and discovered Asheri’s body in a field covered in dirt. The body was transferred by ambulance to the Ofer army base for identification by Shai District Police forensics experts, and was later transferred to the Abu Kabir Forensics Institute in Tel Aviv.
Last Wednesday’s arrest and interrogation of a senior Fatah member suspected of murdering Asheri led security forces to the body. The investigation revealed that the teen was shot in his head from short range.
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report