Israel Nabs Palestinians Who Murdered Three Israelis

The two Palestinians carried out an attack in ultra-Orthodox city of Elad that killed three Israelis and wounded four

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Police chief with Israeli forces after the arrest, in central Israel, on Sunday.
Police chief with Israeli forces after the arrest, in central Israel, on Sunday.Credit: Israel Police
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Israeli forces captured the two Palestinians who murdered three Israelis last week after a three-day manhunt.

The two were found in a forest in central Israel, close to the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad where the attack took place.

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The two are identified as As'ad al-Rifa'i, 19, and Subhi Abu Shakir, 20, from the village of Rummaneh, near Jenin.

The two suspects, in a photo released on Saturday by Israel Police.Credit: Israel Police

An extensive manhunt followed the attack Thursday, in which the two perpetrators killed three and injured four Israelis in the central city of Elad.

In footage released from the scene of the arrest, al-Rifa'i appears to respond to interrogation questions, and admits to carrying out the attack in Elad together with his friend.

Police searches near Elad, on Friday.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

"We carried out a terror attack. I don't know what exactly happened. We hit people," he says. A police official said the two were exhausted, and one had a hand injury.

Those killed in the terror attack were Oren Ben Yiftah, a resident of Lod, Yonatan Havakuk, a 44-year-old resident of Elad, and Boaz Gol, also a 49-year-old resident of the city.

Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva said on Saturday that there is no longer a threat to the lives of the two victims in serious condition.

According to a security official, one of the attackers worked next to the attack's location and was familiar with the area, and that both of the attackers crossed the West Bank separation barrier through a breach in the fence, apparently armed with an axe and knife. 

Security forces at the scene of the attack in Elad, Thursday.Credit: Moti Milrod

The police have said that an initial investigation shows one of the three victims, Oren Ben Yiftah, drove the two assailants to the scene of the attack. Officials believe Yiftah was acquainted with the suspects, and that they had spoken with him on the phone shortly before the ride. 

The Defense Ministry said Saturday that following a security assessment, the ongoing closure of the West Bank and crossings at the Gaza border will be extended through Monday, with only approved cases being allowed to pass into or through Israel. Another assessment will be made Sunday, the ministry said. 

Defense officials cast doubt on Hamas' announcement claiming responsibility for the attack, believing it to be a retroactive attempt to bolster its status. This assessment is based on the fact that the two suspects are not religiously observant, are not known to have links to the group, and had not spent a long time in Israel. 

The attack in Elad is the latest in a string of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left 19 dead. Meanwhile, at least 27 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, some related to operations to locate suspects in the attacks. 

Yaniv Kubovich, Ido Efrati and Ran Shimoni contributed to this report.

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