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'Ghost of Jenin' continues to elude Israeli occupation forces

Israeli occupation forces stand watch as Palestinian protest on 9 December 2017 in Jerusalem against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital . [Salih Zeki Fazlıoğlu/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli occupation forces [Salih Zeki Fazlıoğlu/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation forces have been continuing their large-scale manhunt for Ahmad Nasr Jarrar, a young Palestinian accused of carrying out a drive-by shooting that killed a settler from the Havat Gilad "outpost" on 10 January.

Almost a month later, however, and more than two weeks after an intense and deadly assault that saw Jarrar reportedly escape capture, Israeli occupation authorities are growing increasingly frustrated at their inability to find a man some Palestinians have dubbed the "ghost of Jenin".

On Saturday, Israeli forces raided Burqin village – home to the Jarrar family – three times in less than 24 hours. During one of the raids, accompanied by bulldozers and a drone, Israeli soldiers surrounded homes and urged Ahmad to "surrender".

Instead, Israeli forces demolished two agricultural sheds in a clearly punitive measure, and, during confrontations with local residents, killed 19-year-old Ahmad Samir Obaid with a shot to the head.

Read: Palestinian teen killed in Israeli West Bank raid

On Sunday evening, like most nights in recent weeks, Israeli soldiers again deployed in the Jenin area, throwing up makeshift checkpoints and raiding properties.

Although Israeli media outlets are subject to military censorship, the frustrations of the occupation authorities have begun to emerge.

According to Ynet, on at least three occasions in the last two weeks Israeli occupation forces have raided Palestinian homes after "receiving intelligence" that Jarrar was "hiding inside"; either the intel was faulty, or Jarrar managed to escape in time.

Numerous relatives have been detained, but the methods suggest an indiscriminate fishing expedition, rather than the existence of any specific leads.

Meanwhile, Israeli defence officials are now concerned that Jarrar's ability to evade arrest for so long "has turned him into something of a living legend among Palestinian youth, who perceive him as a hero who is able to time and again best the sophisticated Israeli defence establishment".

Read: Israeli forces raid home, town of Palestinian fighter

Indeed, on social media Palestinians have described Jarrar as the "ghost of Jenin" and mocked the Israeli authorities' inability to find one man, despite – according to Israeli media reports – deploying Special Forces troops, the Givati Brigade's reconnaissance battalion, and Border Police forces.

One Israeli defence source cited by Israel Hayom has described the inability to capture Jarrar thus far as a "[jarring] intelligence failure", with an official telling the paper that "the longer Jarrar remains at large", the greater the likelihood that other Palestinians may seek to follow his example.

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