Haytham Battat is among those responsible for numerous shooting attacks in which four Israelis were killed, and for the suicide bombing in the central bus station in Beersheba in August 2005.

(Communicated by Israeli security sources)     

In a joint IDF and ISA operation in the village of Dahariya, southwest of Hebron, last Wednesday, October 12, 2005, Haytham Battat, 21, resident of Dahariya, a wanted Hamas terrorist, was arrested. Battat belonged to a Hamas cell which carried out a number of murderous terrorist attacks in which four Israelis were killed.

On September 27, 2005, Battat escaped a security forces attempt to arrest him and from that point on lived in hiding in an abandoned house in Dahariya.

Battat was recruited by a Hamas terrorist cell four years ago, and immediately following his recruitment, he and several additional members of the terrorist cell set off to carry out a shooting attack against Israeli vehicles traveling in the area of Tene, an Israeli community located south of Hebron. The shooting attack was eventually aborted since the members of the cell identified the driver of the vehicle that they were about to target was an Arab.

On February 10, 2002, Battat and another member of the cell dispatched two terrorists, Mahmad Battat and Haled Tel, to carry out a terrorist attack in Beersheba. The two arrived at the entrance to the IDF Southern Command base in Beersheba, and opened fire in all directions. Two IDF soldiers, Keren Rothstein and Aya Malachi, were killed in the attack, and 24 Israeli civilians were wounded. Several Israelis who were present in the area returned fire at the two terrorists, killing them.

Haytham Battat met with the two terrorists before they set out to execute the attack, photographed them, received their testaments and provided them with the two weapons with which they carried out the attack.

Haytham Battat was arrested in June 2002, after security forces received information which revealed his involvement in the shooting attack. During Battat’s stay in prison, the Hamas cell to which he belonged carried out two shooting attacks in the area of Dahariya. One of them was a shooting attack at an Israeli vehicle on February 27, 2004, in which an Israeli couple, Eitan Kukoi and Rima Novikov, residents of the community of Shani, in the southern Mount Hebron area, were murdered.

Battat was released from prison in February 2004, and shortly thereafter he returned to his activity in the same Hamas terrorist cell, and took part in two additional shooting attacks. On August 8, 2004, members of the Hamas cell opened fire at an Israeli vehicle traveling on the road near the Israeli community of Tene. The driver was lightly wounded in the attack. Battat was also involved in a shooting attack at the Hadas Junction, near Dahariya, in February 2005. Members of the Hamas cell prepared a hideout alongside the road, and opened fire at a military jeep patrolling in the area. The soldiers who were inside the vehicle attempted to return fire at the terrorists, but did not hit them. The terrorists continued to shoot at the vehicle, and four soldiers were wounded, two of them severely.

The most recent terrorist attack carried out by the cell was the suicide bombing at the central bus station in Beersheba on August 28, 2005. The terrorists who took part in the attack, and particularly Battat, who served as the explosives expert in the cell, prepared an explosive belt containing a large amount of explosives and shrapnel in order to maximize the number of casualties and the damage sustained during the attack.   

Haytham Battat is the nephew of Iyad Battat, a wanted Hamas terrorist from Dahariya who carried out several murderous attacks against Israeli targets and was killed during an exchange of fire with an IDF force in 1999.  

To date, several members of the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the village of Dahariya, to which Battat belonged, have been arrested. This infrastructure is responsible for carrying out a large number of terror attacks against Israeli targets, including attacks that were carried out during the supposed recent period of calm declared by Hamas.