JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli security forces are still searching for a terrorist who killed two Israelis and critically wounded one other in shooting attacks on Sunday.
It started outside the city of Ariel, a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria less than 30 miles from Tel Aviv.
The terrorist stabbed a soldier, 19-year-old Gal Keidan, stole his weapon and shot him to death. Then he went on a shooting spree firing at three cars before hijacking one and getting away.
A Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier at Ariel junction, stole his weapon, fired at civilians, got into his car, drove to the Gitai Avishar Junction, and fired at Israelis at a bus station.
Our troops are searching for the terrorist. pic.twitter.com/0Dhi8KaE6a
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 17, 2019
Two other Israelis were critically wounded. One of them, a father of 12, died from his injuries Monday morning.
Israeli security forces focused their search in the nearby Arab village of Birkin. The IDF has arrested and interrogated the father and brother of the suspect.
“I am certain that they will apprehend them and we will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law as we have done in all of the recent incidents,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
In Gaza, Palestinians handed out sweets to celebrate what one tweet said was a “heroic morning”.
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) March 17, 2019
President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt condemned the attack, tweeting:
“Disgustingly, but not surprisingly, Hamas & PIJ welcomed the attack & no doubt the Palestinian Authority will reward the terrorist under its pay for slay policy. I’m praying for the families of the victims & a speedy recovery for the injured.”
Disgustingly, but not surprisingly, Hamas & PIJ welcomed the attack & no doubt the Palestinian Authority will reward the terrorist under its pay for slay policy. I’m praying for the families of the victims & a speedy recovery for the injured. https://t.co/x0uU9ozk57
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 17, 2019
Pay to slay refers to the Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying hefty salaries to terrorists and their families.
The attack came three days after Hamas launched two rockets at Tel Aviv for the first time since 2014. Israel struck back hitting 100 Hamas targets in Gaza.
Later, Hamas said the rockets were fired by mistake, but Netanyahu said that didn’t matter.
“Hamas bears responsibility for any attack from the Gaza Strip whether it's intentional or by mistake,” he said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Israel as part of a Middle East tour later this week. Netanyahu said Iran would be the focus of those talks.
Meanwhile, with a little over three weeks until Israelis go to national elections, Netanyahu’s party came out with a one-seat lead in weekend polls over its main contender the newly formed Blue and White party.