Suspects in Israeli Soldier's Murder Acted Alone, Defense Officials Believe

Israeli officials argue West Bank killing of 19-year-old was a spur-of-the-moment decision and the two Palestinians who admitted to it had not been in contact with any organizations over it

Israeli forces detain Palestinian suspects in investigation into soldier's killing in the West Bank, August 10, 2019.
IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Two Palestinians charged with the Wednesday murder of a 19-year-old Israeli soldier in the West Bank acted alone, Israeli defense officials believe.

Their questioning over the death of yeshiva student Dvir Sorek in Gush Etzion reinforces the assessment that they hadn't operated under the guidance of any Palestinian group in the West Bank or Gaza, while officials say their conduct after the attack indicates the killing was a spur-of-the-moment decision made by them when they realized that Sorek was walking alone.

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The suspects, cousins Nasir and Kassem Asafra, were arrested in their home in Beit Kahil, near Hebron, and have admitted to the charges against them.

Friends and relatives mourn during the funeral procession of Israeli soldier Dvir Sorek in the Jewish settlement of Ofra in the Israeli-occupied West Bank August 8, 2019.
\ CORINNA KERN/ REUTERS

Israeli security forces found the car with which they had allegedly fled the scene parked nearby, which along with their relatively indiscreet behavior add to the assessment they hadn't gotten any help from terror operatives in hiding.

The security establishment refuses to officially comment on the investigation or on the suspects’ motives at this time. But it is believed no details that have come up in the investigation cast doubt on the identity of the killers.

In addition to the two cousins, Kassem’s wife, Inas, and another man, Akarma Asafra, were arrested on suspicion that they had assisted the two attackers.

The Shin Bet security service announced that none of the four had ever been arrested for security offenses before, but one of them was said to be a Hamas activist.

Sorek’s body was found early Thursday morning near Migdal Oz with stab wounds.

Resident of the settlement of Ofra, he had recently enlisted in the army through the hesder program that combines army service with Torah study. He was attacked upon returning from Jerusalem, as he made his way back from the bus stop near Efrat to the Mahanayim Yeshiva near Migdal Oz, where he was studying, a distance of around 200 meters.