“A Valuable Prey” was how Israeli security sources described the successful assassination the commander of Al Quds Brigades in the Jenin district and his deputy.  Jihad Mohammed Zakarneh has been accused by Israel of being behind the recent Hadera suicide bombing, which was carried out by Al Quds Brigades last week, which claimed the lives of five Israelis.

The suicide bomber who carried out the mission, Hassan Abu Zeid was from Qabatiya, hometown of Zakarneh and his close confidant man, Irshed Kmeil.
Israeli forces managed to hunt down Zakarneh and Kmeil in a special army operation, after being in hot pursuit of Zakarneh for a year during which he survived a number of arrest and assassination attempts and during which he was wounded twice.
The two fought to the bone and the confrontations spread to all parts of Qabatiya, which looked more like a battlefield with fighting lasting for four hours straight.
Immediately after the Iftar meal (breaking the fast in Ramadan), eyewitnesses say an Israeli special force infiltrated into Zakarneh’s neighborhood and besieged the home of Mahmoud Nazzal, where the two were, without anyone noticing their presence. This was followed by more than 20 Israeli army cars invading Qabatiya backed up by low-flying Israeli drones above them.
The soldiers sealed off Nazzal’s home say eyewitnesses, while their troops deployed at all of the town’s entrances. The quarters were turned into military fortifications in the blink of an eye and Zakarneh and Kmeil were surrounded.
The townspeople said the soldiers demanded that the two hand themselves in. They refused and began shooting at the soldiers. In their panic, the army called on more reinforcements.
The night was suddenly lit with gunfire, say the people of Qabatiya while over 70 army vehicles continued to make their way into the town. Zakarneh and Kmeil, however, continued with the fight. Kmeil was killed first and still Zakarneh refused to surrender. He fought until his last breath and then he too went down.
Right after news of Kmeil’s death had spread and that the fight was still ongoing, the people of Qabatiya leapt into action. Resistance fighters began calling on loudspeakers from the town’s mosques to the people to come out into the streets and support the resistance in breaking the siege on Zakarneh. Eyewitnesses say dozens of armed fighters from Al Quds Brigades (Islamic Jihad), Al Aqsa Martyrs (Fatah) and Ezzedin Al Qassam Brigades (Hamas) heeded the call and took up their arms in a battle the people say was the fiercest the town has seen in years. And despite the heavy deployment of Israeli forces and the random shelling, the resistance fighters continued to fill the streets.
But Zakarneh would not give up. He continued to fight and the resistance continued to clash with the soldiers in an effort to break their siege on Zakarneh. The army called up more reinforcements and a bulldozer arrived to demolish Zakarneh’s house. The drones overhead fired heavily down at the town as well.
On the ground, six people were wounded in the clashes, three seriously. The army then stormed and searched homes, arresting 10 people.
The clashes continued on into the night and eyewitnesses say Zakarneh, holed up in the Nazzal house, refused to call it quits. So the Israelis shelled the house with heavy machinegun fire and then with Energa shells until Zakarneh was killed.
After the army confirmed the identity of the two killed fighters, they left Qabatiya, leaving the bodies where they had fallen. Hundreds of townspeople flocked to the place where they saw the lifeless bodies, riddled with bullets.
The scene aroused the rage of the people who defied the siege on Qabatiya in order to transfer the bodies to the Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin. From there, hundreds of young men took to the streets in marches condemning the assassination.
Jihad Zakarneh has been wanted by Israeli authorities for a year and its security establishment considered him one of the most dangerous Palestinians on the list after the Hadera bombing, which they claimed he masterminded.
Zakarneh comes from a family of resistance fighters whereby his brother Thaer, an Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander was assassinated two years ago. Another brother is in an Israeli prison. Zakarneh was also arrested several times by Israeli forces.
The Islamic Jihad movement vowed revenge for the assassination of Zakarneh, Kmeil and Luay Al-Sa’adi, one of their prominent leaders.