What happened: One Israeli was killed and two others were wounded in the West Bank last night after two terrorist ambushed their car and opened fired.
- According to initial reports, the two terrorists were hiding in the bushes before they jumped out and fired with more than ten bullets at the vehicle. Yehuda Dimentman, a 25-year-old father of one from Shavei Shomron was killed, the two other men were taken to hospital with injuries.
- Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent condolences to the family and said: “Security forces will get their hands on the terrorists quickly. We will settle this score with them.”
- Defence Minister Benny Gantz added, “I join the family of the murder victim in their grief and send my best wishes for a speedy recovery to the people who were injured. Security forces will get their hands on the terrorists. We are continuing to ramp up our state of alert and preparedness vis-à-vis terrorism in Judea and Samaria and we continue to employ all the tools at our disposal everywhere against the terror organisations.”
- From Gaza, both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the attack, with Hamas claiming responsibility.
- Also yesterday, the Shin Bet announced that an Arab Israeli and a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip were arrested last month on suspicion of spying on Israel on behalf of Hamas.
- Mammoud Ahmad, 33 from Gaza, had legally entered Israel multiple times with a valid permit and after being recruited by Hamas in 2019 he allegedly gathered information about the Israeli military and its Iron Dome system.
- The Israeli suspect, Hasin Biari, from Jaffa, is believed to have been recruited by Hamas over the past year while visiting Gaza. According to the Shin Bet, Biari “was able to carry out intelligence-gathering missions about military bases, IDF soldiers and Iron Dome batteries across the country. In addition, Biari was asked by Hamas to incite Israel’s Arab population against the country, to acquire weapons and to carry out terror attacks in Israeli territory”.
Context: Since mid-November, two Israelis have been killed and 11 wounded in seven attacks by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
- The nature of last night’s attack suggests that it was premeditated and carefully planned. The use of automatic weapons is similar to another Hamas cell that was exposed and caught last month, that were suspected of planning similar shooting attacks.
- That cell was thought to be under the command of Hamas’s external leadership based in Turkey.
- In parallel yesterday, Israel pressed charges against 18-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Odeh for attempted murder and a stabbing attack in Jaffa. On 21 November, Odeh allegedly took a knife and entered Israel illegally from his West Bank home in Tamun. According to the indictment, Odeh travelled to Jaffa to kill Jews and found a couple walking down Bat Yam Street, approached them from behind and stabbed the man in the back, neck and chest.
- Israeli authorities will reportedly indict the 14-year-old Palestinian girl who stabbed a Jewish woman in Jerusalem last week. Last Wednesday, 8 December, the Palestinian girl stabbed 26-year-old Moriah Cohen in the back in the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood where they both live.
- She was subsequently found and arrested about an hour later at a school near the scene of the stabbing. She has been in custody since the attack and will remain under arrest until Monday, when she is expected to be indicted.
- On the day of the Jaffa attack, another terrorist attack was committed in the Old City of Jerusalem, in which Eliyahu Kay, a 25-year-old resident of Modi’in, was shot at close range by a Hamas member en route to the Western Wall.
- The arrest of the two Hamas suspects yesterday compounds the ongoing debate between the IDF and the Shin Bet about the benefit and risks of allowing large numbers of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Israel to work. The IDF supports this policy as a stabilising measure that helps the Gazan economy, whilst the Shin Bet has opposed the policy, arguing that it would be abused by Hamas to carry out and coordinate attacks against Israel and Israelis.
- In an attempt to improve the living conditions in the Gaza Strip, the Bennett-Lapid government increased number of Palestinian workers it permits to enter Israel from the Gaza Strip by 3,000 in October, allowing a total of 10,000 to enter Israel.
- At the time, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, said its implementation depended on the continued stability of the security situation.
Looking ahead: The IDF has begun a manhunt for the terrorists, who managed to escape under the cover of darkness last night.
- The military is on a higher state of alert, with a dual concern that with this cell at large they may attack again, or serve as increased motivation for others. The IDF is deploying three additional battalions and special forces into the area.