Palestinians 'confess to Israeli family murders'

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The Independent Online

Two Palestinian teenagers linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have been arrested by Israeli security forces for the murders of an Israeli family attacked as they lay sleeping.

Udi Fogel, 36, and his wife, Ruth, 35, died in a hail of bullets from a stolen M-16 assault rifle as they fought to protect their children from two men who broke into their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus, on 11 March. Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and three-month-old Hadas were found by their 12-year-old sister, who raised the alarm. Their throats had been cut. Two more children aged eight and two survived because they were sleeping in another room.

Israeli officials said yesterday that Hakim Mazen Awad, 17, and Amjad Mahmad Awad, 19, from the nearby village of Awarta, were captured during a series of raids by the Israeli army and Shin Bet security service and had confessed to the crimes. Last week they led investigators through a reconstruction of the murders at the family's home.

"The murderers are in our hands," Colonel Nimrod Aloni, the localIsraeli military commander, saidyesterday.

Hakim's father, Maazan, a PFLP member, spent five years in a Palestinian prison for killing his niece and burning her body. His uncle Jibril, who was killed during a clash with Israeli soldiers in 2003, took part in an earlier attack on Itamar in June 2002 in which five Israelis were killed.

Israeli officials said the two suspected killers showed no sign of remorse and staged "a chilling re-enactment" of the attack. Shin Bet officers said they offered a "shocking, cold, remorseless and detailed description" of the murders.

Responding to widespread international outrage, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took the unusual step of going on Israel Radio three days later to condemn the killings as "despicable, immoral and inhuman".

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