The families of the two terrorists who
confessed to murdering five members of the Fogel family refuse to believe the two committed the massacre. Hakim Awad's mother, Nawef, claimed that her son was at home the night of the murder and never left the house. "Five months ago Hakim underwent a surgery in his stomach and I'm sure he was tortured and forced into confessing."
The mother claimed that Israel was trying to cover up for crimes it committed in Awarta last month and noted that their home in the village was very far from the settlement of Itamar.
Hakim, 18, is not the only member of the family involved in terrorist activity. His father Mazen Awad is active with the Popular Front and had previously served in prison in connection to the murder of his cousin whose body was burned. He has recently been arrested.
Hakim's uncle, Jibril Awad, was killed in a clash with an IDF force in December 2003 and was involved in a terror attack in Itamar in 2002. The attack left the community's security officer and four family members dead.
Another member of the family, Salah Awad, agreed to cover for the murder and handed over the weapons to a Popular Front operative in Ramallah. Two other members of the family are suspected in connection to the affair.
The family members of the second suspect, Amjad Awad, also deny any connection to the massacre. They are claiming Amjad was in the village at the time of the murder. "The Israeli narrative is filled with lies and is a distortion of the truth," one family member claimed. He also asserted that the two suspects are not friends. "One went to university, the other is in high school."
He claimed that had the two been guilty, Israel would have captured them long ago. "Why weren't the culprits' identities revealed in the first days after the murder? The whole world knows about Israel's advanced investigation abilities and its use of sophisticated means," he said.
Meanwhile, residents of Awarta are struggling to come to terms with the arrest. "I'm ashamed that such a thing happened here," Jamal Kawarij told Ynet. He fears there will be collective punishment and revenge. "One can't tell what will happen, but we are afraid of the settlers' response. I have a tractor and I'm meant to plow our field in this time of year but I'm afraid to go there. What would I do if they come for me with weapons?"
Captain N., a commander in an elite IDF unit recounted the night of the arrest. "Since the attack we were on high alert and ready to arrest the person responsible for this heinous murder. It was clear this was important and that we must carry out the arrest to the best of our abilities. "
The IDF force arrived at Amjad Awad's home late at night. "He was asleep and surprised to see us. He was very scared. He seemed a boy, just 19-years-old, but despite his age he committed monstrous acts."
N. noted that despite the sever circumstances of the murder, the soldiers all made sure to follow procedure and not allow emotions to affect their conduct.
"Obviously this is not an easy situation. Some of the combatants are acquainted with the Fogel family in one way or another and were aware they were arresting a person who murdered a baby in her crib. Our mission was to carry out an arrest and maintain the purity of arms.
"We do not act vindictively as this man and his friend did but humanely. Even when such a murderer is concerned there are rules and we followed them."
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report