Israeli forces on Sunday arrested two Palestinians suspected of killing three Israelis with an ax Thursday in the central Israeli town of Elad, more than 48 hours after fleeing.
The police, the army and the Shin Bet internal security agency said in a joint statement that “the two terrorists who killed three Israeli civilians during the attack in the town of Elad were arrested.” They were found near a quarry in a forested area near the town of Elad, near the city of Tel Aviv.
Sixth attack in two months
After the attack, Thursday evening, the police launched a manhunt operation by distributing pictures and names of two Palestinians suspected of committing them: Asaad Yousef Al-Rifai, 19, and Subhi Imad Abu Shqair, 20, from the village of Rummana. In the Jenin area of the West Bank. “We said we would arrest the terrorists, and we did,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
His Defense Minister Benny Gantz, in a message on Twitter, praised the joint operation of the police, army and Shin Bet, during which important forces, helicopters and drones were deployed. The attack came on the day of the celebration of the 74th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.
According to eyewitnesses, the assailants jumped out of a car and began attacking passersby with axes before fleeing in the car. Three Israelis were killed and four wounded, one of them critically, in Elad, where 50,000 residents belong to ultra-Orthodox Jews. This is the sixth attack targeting Israelis since March 22 in Israel and the West Bank, the Palestinian territories occupied by the Israeli army since 1967.
After the attack, Israel extended until Sunday the closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to prevent the escape of suspects to these Palestinian territories. The Palestinian president and leader of the West Bank-based secular movement, Fatah Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the “killing of Israeli civilians” after the attack. However, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad welcomed the “heroic” attack without announcing it.
According to them, it was carried out in response to violence in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian part of the holy city occupied by Israel since 1967. Against the holy places,” warned Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, a densely populated Palestinian enclave that has been under an Israeli siege for more than 15 years The Islamic Jihad movement added that “the desecration of the occupation forces and the settlers’ gangs at Al-Aqsa has crossed all red lines.”
In recent weeks, clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians have left around 300 people injured, most of them in the courtyard of mosques in East Jerusalem. This site is the third place in Islam and houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque. On Thursday, after Jewish worshipers returned to the Temple Mount, which is also considered the holiest site in Judaism under the name of the Temple Mount, clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.
Under the undeclared status quo, non-Muslims can go to the square but cannot pray there. An increasing number of Jews go there, and the fact that some of them surreptitiously pray there raises concerns that this status quo will be challenged among many Muslims, despite Israel’s time and time again wishing to preserve it.
In total, since March 22, 18 people have been killed in anti-Israel attacks in Israel and the West Bank, carried out by Israeli and Palestinian Arabs. Following the first attacks, Israeli forces carried out operations in the West Bank, specifically in the Jenin area from which the attackers came. And killed 27 Palestinians, including attackers.