JERUSALEM – Israeli troops on Friday killed two leading Palestinian militants, including the mastermind of a Passover suicide bombing in Israel that killed 26 people and triggered Israel's current military offensive, Palestinian sources and Israeli TV reports said.
The militant leaders were identified as Qeis Odwan, head of the military wing of the Islamic militant group Hamas in the northern West Bank, and Nasser Awais, leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade militia in the same region.
Odwan and five fellow Hamas militants were killed when Israeli forces converged on their hideout in the West Bank town of Tubas, Israel TV reported. Palestinian sources confirmed the raid and the deaths of six members of the Hamas military wing, and said Odwan was killed. Israel TV said Odwan was the mastermind of the March 27 attack at the start of the Passover holiday.
Awais was killed in the West Bank town of Nablus, where hundreds of gunmen were battling Israeli troops in the downtown area, or Casbah, said Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Al Aqsa militia.
Awais was responsible for scores of shooting and bombing attacks on Israelis in the past 18 months of fighting. He had escaped Israeli troops in the past, including last month when Israel raided the Balata refugee camp near Nablus where he lived.