The Israel Defense Forces identified the two soldiers killed in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank as Capt. Ziv Daos and Sgt. Netanel Kahalani on Saturday.
Daos, 21, from the town of Azor, near Tel Aviv, was a platoon commander in a rescue unit. Kahalani, 20, of the northern Israeli community of Elyakim, was a driver for the Menashe territorial brigade.
“I thank God for giving me this child,” Kahalani’s mother told Haaretz. “He had a heart of gold, a pure soul. Everywhere, they loved him.”
Kahalani’s father said he did not know how the family would cope with their loss. “We sent him to the army and he is not returning to us like we sent him,” he said. “They haven’t yet explained to us what happened there. But even if I know, how will it help me?”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed earlier Saturday that Israel would demolish the home of the terrorist – a measure Kahalani's father said would be of no use.
“Demolishing houses will not help. When they decide to impose the death penalty, it will stop. They should throw their families into the sea. This will go on and not stop, and many more people will weep for their children.”
He said he is now debating whether to send his younger son to the army. “Let them say what they please, I’d prefer that he stay with me,” he said.
Avishai Kahalani, 18, said his brother “was always smiling. He had a sense of humor. He was involved in every part of my life. It’s sad that he’s gone for nothing, for someone who got up in the morning and decided to take other people’s lives.”
Daos is survived by his parents and two younger sisters. His relatives said the army had originally deemed him unfit for combat service, and he had made great efforts to persuade it to change its mind.
He is the first fatality from the mixed-gender companies in the Home Front Command that engage in operational activity.
The Home Front Command’s rescue brigade works throughout the West Bank around the clock. Despite its name, it is an operational unit in every respect, engaging in arrests, weapons seizures and patrols.
Most of the brigade’s battalions are currently assigned to operational activity alongside units from the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) Division.
The Kedem Battalion, for instance, works with the Menashe territorial brigade, the Ram Battalion with the Binyamin territorial brigade and the Shahar Battalion with the Etzion territorial brigade. The fourth battalion, Tavor, is assigned to Southern Command.
The Kedem Battalion, in which the slain officer and two of the wounded soldiers served, has won much praise in recent years for its performance. This past Rosh Hashanah, it was named the Judea and Samaria Division’s outstanding battalion for its counterterrorism activity, and in 2015, the chief of staff named it one of the army’s top operational battalions.
Following the attack, the battalion searched the area around Barta’a, the terrorist’s hometown, for weapons and arrested one suspect.
Netanyahu sent his condolences to the slain soldiers' families Saturday and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also sent his condolences, assailed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying he has been trying to “worsen the situation and bring about a conflict between Hamas and Israel.”
“To anyone who saw the Palestinian papers this weekend, including the analyses, the hints and social media, it’s clear that Abu Mazen is going to completely end funding for the Gaza Strip, including payments for electricity, water, health services and salaries,” said the defense minister, referring to Abbas by his nickname.
Lieberman added that Abbas was “exploiting” last week’s attack on Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy in Gaza “to say, ‘with this, I’m ending all efforts at reconciliation’” with Hamas.
Following the deadly attack Friday, the IDF raided the home of the terrorist, 27-year-old Ala Rateb Abed al-Latif Kabha. During the raid, which was carried out in the Palestinian village of Barta'a, army forces arrested the assailant's 25-year-old brother.
Israel also revoked some 100 work permits for Kabha's family members following the attack. Kabha was interrogated at the scene of the attack before being taken to a hospital in Hadera with light-to-moderate injuries.
The assailant was released from an Israeli prison last April after serving 17 months for security offenses.
An initial investigation of the attack revealed that the four soldiers were not standing in a group. The officer and soldier who were killed were standing next to each other and were hit by the car first. The other two soldiers were standing behind a pillbox barrier when they were struck.
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