What happened: After a 60 hour manhunt, the two terrorists who killed three people in Elad on Thursday night were captured yesterday.
- The two men were found in a wooded area just outside Elad.
- According to the police, the axe used in the attack was also recovered.
- Last night there were three more terror-related incidents:
- A Border Policeman was stabbed in his neck at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. The attacker was killed.
- A Palestinian teenager armed with a knife was shot and killed after he infiltrated the southern West Bank settlement of Tekoa. Hamas issued a statement claiming that the 17-year-old was a Hamas member.
- IDF troops killed a Palestinian man who tried to cross the separation fence in the northern West Bank. Troops spotted the suspect in the Tulkarm area and opened fire on him in keeping with the protocol for arresting a suspect.
- Earlier in the day, at the weekly cabinet meeting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett related to the latest terror attacks saying, “Capturing the murderers is not enough. We are at the start of a new stage in the war on terrorism. Those who incite cannot rest easy. Those who throw matches cannot run away.”
- Bennett added: “I would like to clarify here that there is no political consideration regarding the war on terrorism nor will there be. And of course, all decisions regarding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be made by the Government of Israel, which is sovereign in the city, without any extraneous considerations whatsoever. We certainly reject any foreign involvement in the decisions of the Government of Israel.”
- “Of course, Israel will continue to respect worshippers of all faiths in Jerusalem. This is what we have done and this is what we will do.”
Context: According to the Shin Bet security agency there were 190 attacks in March and 268 in April, with the significant majority taking place in the West Bank.
- In the last two months, 19 people have been killed in 6 deadly attacks.
- The first victim of the attack in Elad was a shuttle driver, who thought he was transporting Palestinian workers into the city but was then murdered.
- The attack in Elad was preceded by an inciteful speech by Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar who encouraged Palestinians in the West Bank and Arab Israelis to commit more attacks. He said, “everybody who has a gun should take it, and those who don’t have a gun should take a butcher’s knife or any knife he can get.”
- The speech and the attack that followed has added to speculation in the Israeli media of whether Sinwar himself should be assassinated.
- Defence Minister Gantz was asked about this yesterday and answered that all operational and strategic decisions are made in closed rooms and based on security considerations.
- Hamas in turn warned that any strike on Sinwar or any of its other commanders would cause an earthquake in the region and would result in unprecedented retaliation.
- In light of the recent attacks and to prevent future ones, the IDF is contemplating launching a new operation in the Jenin area which is considered the main centre of terror activity in the West Bank.
- The IDF is also considering striking Hamas in Gaza, and making them accountable for leading the incitement emanating from the West Bank.
- Compounding the heightened alert over the security situation is political instability in the government after it lost its slim majority last month. Bennett has referred to the United Arab List’s demand for an expanded role of Jordanian Waqf on the Temple Mount as a condition to remain in the coalition as “extraneous considerations”.
Looking ahead: The closure that was imposed on the West Bank last week has been lifted, with the exception of Roumana, the hometown of the two terrorists from Elad.
- However, the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip will remain closed until further notice.
- Prime Minister Bennett has announced the establishment of a civilian national guard. Bennett said: “The plan will be based on Border Police units, along with the mobilisation of trained units of volunteers and reservists, who together will be defined as a national guard. They will be activated in emergencies and disturbances, and in routine times as well, as necessary.”
- In addition, the Israel Police is launching an operation to deal with Palestinians who are in Israel illegally.