Israel Nabs Rabbi's Killer After Six-week Manhunt in West Bank

The assailant, Abed al-Hakim Asi, was apprehended in Nablus along with several other suspects. al-Hakim is an Israeli citizen who resided in Tel Aviv until recently

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The scene of a stabbing attack near the entrance to the settlement of Ariel, West Bank, February 5, 2018.
The scene of a stabbing attack near the entrance to the settlement of Ariel, West Bank, February 5, 2018.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israeli security forces arrested Sunday the assailant who stabbed a man to death near the Ariel settlement in the West Bank last month.

The assailant, Abed al-Hakim Asi, was apprehended in Nablus along with several other suspects in a joint operation of Shin Bet security, Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli Police. 

Israeli security forces arrest Abed al-Hakim Asi, who stabbed and killed Itamar Ben Gal in February, March 18, 2018.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

In a video of the attack, which occured on February 5, the assailant can be seen getting out of a taxi van, crossing the road and then stabbing Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, who was waiting for a bus. Ben Gal then flees the scene and the assailant throws his bag down on the road and continues to chase his victim.

Itamar Ben Gal - the victim of a terror attack near the city of Ariel.Credit: Courtesy

Ben Gal ,29, was a father of four and lived in the Har Bracha settlement in the northern West Bank. He was a teacher at a yeshiva high school in Givat Smuel and the yeshiva in Har Bracha.

"The circle is complete," Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statment on Sunday. "Let any murderous terrorist know, we will get our hands on him and settle the score. I commend the security forces a succesful reconnaissance action."

Al-Hakim, 19, is an Israeli citizen. His mother lived in Haifa until recently and his father is a Palestinian from Nablus. Until recently, he was residing in Tel Aviv. The Haifa municipality has stated al-Hakim is known to the city's social services and was treated in its youth program for a year.

According to them, he rejected treatment plans offered to him. A municipality spokesperson said al-Hakim was a drug addict abandoned by his parents who repeatedly refused proposals for rehabilitation programs. He received several housing and rehab solutions from the city, but has terminated processes several times.  

Hundreds attend the funeral for slain Itamar Ben Gal Tuesday, February 2018.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen

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