Israel Captures Most Wanted Terrorist

Israeli Defense Forces today captured Ibrahim Hamed, mastermind of terrorist attacks that have killed 78 people and whom they have been chasing for eight years.

After an eight-year manhunt, Israeli security forces early Tuesday seized the Ramallah-area commander of Hamas’ military wing, Israel’s most wanted man in the West Bank. Sheikh Ibrahim Hamed, 41, has been wanted since 1998 for terror attacks that claimed the lives of 78 Israeli civilians and soldiers.


Among the attacks Hamed is believed to have helped plan and direct were:

  • A car bombing in Zion Square in the heart of Jerusalem five years ago, an attack which killed 11 people.
  • A March 2002 suicide bombing at the Moment coffee house adjacent to the Prime Minister’s official residence in the city, in which 12 people were killed.
  • A double suicide bombing in September 2003, which killed a total of 17 people at the Hillel cafe in Jerusalem’s German colony, and adjacent to the Tsrifin IDF base.
  • A December 2001 double suicide bombing in Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, in which 11 people died.
  • A July 2002 bombing at the cafeteria of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem that killed five Americans and four Israelis.

The IDF colonel who led the capture said Hamas would have trouble replacing Hamed. “What made him special was his creativity in finding very complex ways to attack Israelis,” the colonel told Army Radio.

Throughout his years in hiding, Hamed maintained strict secrecy, and was in contact with only a few of the members of his network. His modus operandi was to act relatively infrequently, and then to disappear, in an effort to make it more difficult to track him down. He was considered a figure of some mystery, and for years security forces questioned whether they had an authentic photograph of him.

Great news, indeed, although Meryl Yourish worries that this will give Hamas “a pretext to end the so-called ‘truce’ that everyone pretends they are abiding by.” Hopefully, given that civil war seems to be breaking out between Hamas and Fatah forces, external diversions will be less appealing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I suspect that Hamas may well use the pre-text, but it won’t be pretty. Israel has a freer hand to hit them in Gaza in return. Fatah may well help sub rosa.