Israeli Forces Kill Suspected Palestinian Assailant in Fatal West Bank Attack

Omar Amin Abu Lila, 19, is suspected of shooting dead Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, 47, and Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, in the settlement of Ariel Sunday

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Israeli special forces raid a building housing Omar Amin Abu Lila, the suspected Palestinian assailant in Sunday's fatal attack, Abwein, West Bank, March 19, 2019.
Israeli special forces raid a building housing Omar Amin Abu Lila, the suspected Palestinian assailant in Sunday's fatal attack, Abwein, West Bank, March 19, 2019.Credit: Israel Police Spokesperson

The Palestinian assailant suspected of carrying out Sunday's fatal shooting attack was shot dead by Israeli forces near Ramallah on Tuesday evening, the Shin Bet security service said in a statement.

Omar Amin Abu Lila, 19, was killed during a shootout in the West Bank village of Abwein after Israeli special units surrounded the house he was hiding in. No Israeli forces were hurt in the operation.

Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger and Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, fatally wounded and killed, respectively, in an attack on March 17, 2019.

Abu Lila, a resident of the village of Al-Zawiya, is suspected of killing Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, a 47-year-old father of 12 children, and Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, in the settlement of Ariel on Sunday. A second soldier was in serious condition after sustaining wounds to his stomach. The two victims were laid to rest on Monday.

Haaretz Weekly, Episode 19Credit: Haaretz

>> Analysis: Israel facing the perfect storm after West Bank attack

Residents of Al-Zawiya told Haaretz that as far as they knew, Abu Lila was not politically active and did not belong to a terror organization.

Omar Amin Abu Laila.

Early on Monday morning, the Israeli army and Shin Bet security service arrested relatives of Abu Lila and mapped the family's house in preparation of a possible demolition. Dozens of young Palestinians clashed with security forces in the wake of the arrests, with local reports saying two were wounded by rubber bullets.

According to the military, Abu Lila approached the Ariel commercial center at around 10:00 A.M on Sunday, stabbed a man, grabbed his weapon, and began firing at nearby vehicles. He then entered a vehicle whose driver had fled, fired at a hitchhiking station, and escaped.

In his eulogy of Ettinger, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the rabbi managed to shoot the assailant before the latter got away. "Even in his death, when the murderer stood in front of him ... he shot the murderer and paid with his life," Bennett said.

Following the attack, the military blocked the entrances to the Palestinian villages of Salfit, Haris, Deir Istiya, as well as the entrance to the village of Kifl Haris. Security forces searched the adjacent villages and the military instructed nearby settlements to shut their gates until the attacker is found.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the scene of the attack later that day, saying "we know the terrorist's identity. The IDF, Shin Bet and security forces are in close pursuit after him. We also know where he lives, [and] we located his family. I gave instructions this morning to begin demolishing his home and preparations have already begun."

"These terrorists will not uproot us from here – the exact opposite will occur," the prime minister continued. "Tomorrow, as the mayor of Ariel told me, we are beginning construction of some 840 housing units in a new neighborhood, a neighborhood that I approved two years ago."

Tenders for the planned construction were issued months ago, and the final tender was approved recently. The plan was finalized long before Sunday's attack.

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