Israel Captures Two Palestinians Suspected of Killing Settlement Security Guard

The two suspects who shot dead an Israeli at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Ariel are not affiliated with any militant group, according to security sources

The scene of the attack in Ariel on Friday.
The scene of the attack in Ariel on Friday.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Israeli forces captured two suspects who are believed to be responsible for the Friday evening attack on security guards outside the West Bank settlement of Ariel, which left one 23-year-old dead.

The IDF and anti-terror units arrested the two suspects, Yusuf 'Assi and Yahya Ma'ari, in their twenties in the northern West Bank of Qarawat Bani Hassan, after an investigation by the Shin Bet security service.

Yahya Ma'ari (right) and Yusuf 'Assi (left).

The victim, Vyacheslav Golov, was the eldest of eight siblings in an ultra-Orthodox family hailing from the city of Bet Shemesh, near Jerusalem, and was renting an apartment in Ariel. The two security guards were engaged, and Golov shielded his fiancée once the assailants opened fire.

Vyacheslav Golov.

'Assi is not believed to be explicitly tied to any political group, while Ma'ari is likely linked to Hamas. 'Assi also does not have a criminal record, whereas Ma'ari served a seven-month sentence in Israeli prison for illegal possession of a weapon, where he was held in the Hamas wing of Meggido Prison.

Residents of Qarawat Bani Hassan said that Yusuf 'Assi was not known to belong to any political group. However, Hassan Ibrahim 'Assi, the mayor of the town, said that Ma'ari's family was affiliated with Hamas, even though Yahya's own affiliation was unclear. His father Mohammed was imprisoned with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, and even named his son after his close friend Yahya Ayyash, the chief bomb-maker for the Islamist group.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah's militant wing, took responsibility for the attack in Ariel, calling it "a heroic action in Ariel which caused the death of a Zionist officer," but it is not clear if the claim is reliable.

The arrest operation occurred at one of the suspects' homes, where both of them were present, according to security sources. Israeli security forces also detained the family members at the scene and confiscated two weapons, which they believe were used in the attack.

The weapons confiscated during the arrest.Credit: Israel Police Spokesperson

The suspects have been transferred to Shin Bet interrogation, which are trying to establish whether they operated as part of a larger cell and whether there were any accomplices.

On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his condolences to the family and said that "there is no terrorist that we will not reach, and settle the score. Our war with terror is long, and together we will win."

In a statement issued by the Israel Police, Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said the arrest "is a decisive message that expresses the policy of the Israel Police, which operates on all of the fronts and with all of its units, including special forces, to thwart terrorism and arrest anyone who has harmed or who seeks to harm Israeli civilians or members of the security forces. "

In the wake of the attack, the IDF said that two assailants who were driving a car with an Israeli license plate arrived at the guard post at the entrance to Ariel and opened fire at the two security guards.

The shooters fled the scene after the attack, the military said, as forces searched for the attackers in the northern West Bank and surrounded the adjacent Palestinian town of Salfit.

Over the past two months, a string of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left 16 dead. Meanwhile, at least 27 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, some related to locating suspects behind the terror attacks.

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