Jerusalem, August 14, 2003

Mohammed Sidr, head of Islamic Jihad in Hebron, killed during IDF attempt to arrest him
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

The head of the Islamic Jihad in Hebron, Mohammed Sidr, was killed this morning during an operation to arrest him in a house where he was hiding in the city.

Sidr was responsible for the killing of 19 Israelis and the wounding of 82 others as well as the killing of two TIPH observers and the wounding of a third observer. The security forces called for Sidr to come out and hand himself in, the terrorist refused to surrender, and fire exchanges ensued between him and the IDF force.

During the fire exchange, a series of explosions occurred on premises, apparently as a result of the combustion of weapons that were in the Sidr’s possession. Sidr threw fragmentation grenades, and killed an IDF search dog, sent in to search the building. It should be stressed that Sidr was in the midst of planning to carry out a terrorist attack in the coming days. The IDF is completing the demolition of the building.

The IDF will continue to act to thwart terror, and act against all those who wish to destroy the political process in the territories under Israel’s security responsibility, as it expects the Palestinian Authority to do in the areas under its responsibility.

Background information attributed to security sources

Head of the Islamic Jihad in Hebron, Mohammed Sidr was killed in arrest operation, while planning imminent terror attack. Sidr, responsible for attacks in which 19 Israelis were killed, was the local point of contact for the Islamic Jihad in Damascus.

Mohamed Ayub Mahmad Sidr, 25, from Hebron, was head of the Islamic Jihad infrastructure in Hebron, and responsible for the death of 19 Israelis and wounding 82 others, in addition he is responsible for killing two TIPH observers and wounding another. In recent questioning of suspected Palestinian terrorists, Sidr was labeled as the main contact for the Islamic Jihad in Damascus and is planning terror attacks, despite the ceasefire. Updated and cross-referenced information, and the interrogation of members of his cell, revealed that Sidr built an explosive laboratory, making potent explosives in order to improve the lethalness of the explosive devices the Political Islamic Jihad possesses. At the same time, Sidr was engaged in recruiting suicide bomber cells, arming and training them.

In light of this activity, and further to the security establishments’ policy to act against anyone still carrying out attacks during this period, security forces attempted to arrest Sidr last night. This was done based on the interrogation of Islamic Jihad operatives in which Sidr was said to be hiding in a carpentry workshop in the Hebron area. An IDF force encircled the workshop in an attempt to arrest Sidr. During an attempt to break into the workshop, a series of explosions occurred, indicating the spot was used as an explosive laboratory, as was revealed in the questioning of other Islamic Jihad members. It appears that Sidr was killed as a result of the detonation of explosive devices in the laboratory. During the operation Sidr fired at the force and near his body were found a short Glilon Rifle, ammunition and cartridges.

Sidr began his activity as head of the Jama’a Islamiya (the student union of Islamic Jihad) in the Polytechnic in Hebron in 1999, at the end of that year he was arrested and found involved in military activity. After his release from prison in June 2000, he began to develop a terrorist infrastructure of Islamic Jihad activity in the area of Hebron and neighboring villages, which carried out a series of attacks under Sidr’s guidance:

  • December 27, 2002 – a suicide attack in the Othniel Yeshiva, during which two soldiers and two civilians were killed and ten Israelis were injured.
  • November 15, 2002 – a suicide attack after Friday night prayers in Hebron in which 12 members of the security forces were killed, among them Brigade commander of Hebron Dror Weinberg, and 21 Israelis were injured.
  • March 26, 2002 – a shooting attack towards a TIPH observers’ vehicle traveling on Route 35 in the Hebron area. As result of the shooting a TIPH observer from Turkey and an observer from Switzerland were, and an additional observer from Turkey was injured.
  • March 19, 2002 – a suicide attack including shooting and throwing of grenades in Moshav Aviezer in the Ela Valley area, in which two Border Police soldiers were wounded.
  • July 13, 2001 – a shooting attack at the Lapid junction, during which a Kiryat Arba resident was killed and an additional Israeli was injured.
  • November 4, 2001 – an attack on a no. 25 bus at the French Hill junction in Jerusalem killing two teenagers and wounding 48.

    Beside these attacks, the infrastructure under Sidr’s guidance was responsible for many attempts to carry out attacks, most of which thwarted by security forces, and many more shooting attacks during Sidr’s activity.

    Sidr’s being in the explosive laboratory during the attempt to arrest him and information attained during investigations naming Sidr responsible for preparing an attack the coming, are proof that Sidr was engaged in preparing attacks despite the cease- fire during the time prior to his arrest.