Two members of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ official security forces were arrested by Israeli police in conjunction with Friday’s attack on the Jewish village of Itamar in which five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death inside their home.
The names of the apprehended suspects have not yet been released to the Israeli media but were revealed to Indy News Israel by security officials working on the murder.
Two cousins, Ahmed Awad and Iyad Awad, are currently in Israeli custody and are being held on suspicion of involvement in the killings. Ahmed is an officer in the PA’s Preventative Security Force (PPS) in the northern Samaria city of Shchem and Iyad is an officer in Abbas’ General Intelligence Service (GI) in Ramallah.
Both Fatah agencies are armed, trained and funded by the United States.
The Awad cousins are not suspected by police of personally carrying out the killings, but rather of assisting in the planning and logistics of the attack.
Since the late 1990s, the US has run training bases for PA security forces and has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid and weaponry to build up these forces.
Since 2007, Washington has stepped up its efforts at training the PA, including a new, advanced program for Fatah police to train 500 to 600 cadets at a time at the American bases.
The Americans currently operate training bases for the PA police and other militias, such as Force 17 and the Preventative Security Services, in the ancient city of Jericho in Judea and in the Jordanian village of Giftlik.
Although Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade initially claimed credit for the Itamar killings, the PA has since officially condemned the attack. The revelation that Fatah forces were involved in the murders could potentially embarrass not only the PA but also its American benefactors.
Several PA news agencies, such as the Bethlehem-based Ma’an, have ran stories claiming that a foreign worker had been arrested for the killings, reporting that he was owed money by the victims.