Israeli security forces early Tuesday shot and killed Ahmed Nassar Jarrar, the head of the terror cell responsible for the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevah from Havat Gilad, leading Hamas's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to claim responsibility for the attack.
Around 3am, the Shin Bet received intelligence that Jarrar was hiding in a complex of buildings in the village of Yamun, 9 kilometers west of Jenin, in the West Bank.
Upon arriving at the scene, troops from the Border Police's counterterrorism unit Yamam called on Jarrar to come out.
Jarrar personally took part in the drive-by shooting that claimed the life of Rabbi Shevah, refused to surrender, leading the forces to launch at least one missile at the building, following which combat engineering troops started demolishing the house with a bulldozer to pressure him to exit the structure.
When Jarrar finally came out of one building, he was armed with an M-16 assault rifle and a bag full of explosives, prompting the Israeli forces to open fire and kill him.
The Israeli troops also arrested several Palestinian accomplices who helped Jarrar hide.
The Givati Brigade's reconnaissance battalion provided support to the Yamam forces. No Israeli troops were hurt in the incident.
"We've come full circle to send a message to all attackers: The IDF's long arm will reach everyone, at any time and in any place," said the commander of the Givati Brigade's reconnaissance battalion, Lt. Col. Ivri Elbaz.
A Shin Bet investigation of detained cell members has revealed that the cell was involved in other attempts to carry out and plan terrorist attacks.
In addition to the cell members, more than 10 other Palestinians were arrested on suspicion they helped Jarrar evade Israeli security forces.
The interrogation of the cell members and their alleged accomplices eventually led to Israeli forces to Jarrar's hiding place.
Defense official believe Jarrar was hiding in the Jenin house Yamam raided two weeks ago, but was able to escape during the fire exchange between Israeli forces and his accomplices. One of his accomplices was killed in that exchange.
Since, he has gone through several different hiding places. The Shin Bet believes the M-16 he was armed with when he was shot dead could be the same weapon used to shoot over 20 bullets (almost an entire magazine) at Rabbi Raziel Shevah's vehicle.
The Shin Bet investigation is still ongoing and a gag order has been placed on any additional details.
Hundreds of Palestinian residents gathered at the scene after the Israeli troops pulled out.
The governor of the Palestinian city of Jenin said they had been informed by Israeli authorities that Jarrar was dead. He condemned the Israeli forces for killing him.
During the month that followed the January 9 attack that claimed Rabbi Shevah's life, IDF troops conducted an extensive search for Jarrar and his accomplices. They closed in on three other houses where Jarrar was believed to be hiding before finally locating him in Yamun.
Jarrar personally took part in the drive-by shooting that claimed the life of Rabbi Shevah.
The terrorist's father, Nassar Jarrar, was a senior Hamas commander in the West Bank who was killed in a clash with Israeli troops in 2002.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman praised the troops, writing on Twitter that "The score has been settled. I congratulate the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Yamam for a successful operation. It was clear it was only a matter of time until we hurt the head of the cell that murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevah. I hope and believe we will soon get to the murderer of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal as well."
Lieberman noted that "we also arrested the entire supporting circle, all sorts of accomplices of that cell, and we completed the eradication of a significant terror cell."
He accused the Palestinian leadership of supporting terrorism. "The terrorists are embraced by the entire Palestinian leadership. I'm not talking about Hamas, I'm specifically talking about Fatah. Coming to offer condolences over the death of the terrorist's cousin were all of the senior Fatah officials—Mahmoud al-Aloul, the governor of Jenin, and all of the others. The media also unequivocally supports terrorism. They're embracing and encouraging all terror acts," he charged.
The perpetrators of terror acts, the defense minister said, "are seen as heroes. There's an enormous monetary incentive. You have to understand that these terrorists' families will immediately receive NIS 10,000-12,000 to their accounts, which is five or six times the average wages in the PA."
Lieberman also criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who "is carrying out diplomatic terrorism against us in all international bodies, including his upcoming appearance at the UN Security Council."
However, he added, "I think even Abbas is starting to realize he has something to lose."
President Reuven Rivlin also welcomed the operation, saying "We appreciate and salute the security forces—the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Yamam—who in a complex operation and with courage fought for our security this morning. I have no doubt the murderer of Itamar Ben Gal and his accomplices will also be pursued until captured. The State of Israel will never surrender to terrorism and will get to the last of the accomplices for the safety of our citizens."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the chorus of praise to Israel's security forces "for the determined and complex operation they carried out last night to apprehend the terrorist, who was ultimately eliminated."
"Several days ago I told Rabbi Raziel Shevah's widow that we would catch the murderers and last night the mission was completed," Netanyahu continued.
"The security forces will catch whoever tries to attack Israeli citizens and we will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law. So it will be with the murderers of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal."
'Happiness mixed with sadness'
Ilana Shevah, Rabbi Shevah's mother, said Tuesday morning that she felt "happiness mixed with sadness" at the death of the terrorist who killed her son.
"I have no words to thank the forces. This wasn't a simple operation, it was a sort of score settling," the bereaved mother said. "I'm proud of our people, our army, and of the determination to avenge the blood of my son Raziel. This won't bring back my child, but the terrorist will not continue carrying out attacks and murdering Jews."
Shevah's widow, Yael, called for more action. "We haven't solved the problem. Okay, so one terrorist was eliminated. What about all of those sitting at home right now and waiting to go and murder another Jew? This is the feeling I get up with every morning," she told Army Radio.
"When the news of the capture of my husband's murderer comes after another murder, it reduces (the impact of) the success," she added, referring to the murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal on Monday.
Reuters contributed to this report.