Palestinian Who Seriously Wounded Soldier in West Bank Turns Himself In

Man is being interrogated by Shin Bet, army says ■ Struggle said to have ensued after Palestinian crossed West Bank barrier, reached outpost and attacked soldier with rock, knife

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, December, 2018.
IDF Spokesperson

The Palestinian man who seriously wounded an Israeli soldier during a confrontation at a military post in the West Bank has turned himself in and is being interrogated by the Shin Bet, the Israeli army said on Saturday.

Palestinian sources named the man Mohammed al-Halabi, a 19-year-old Ramallah resident. He turned himself in following heavy pressure on his relatives and threats to his life should he not do so.

According to the army, a struggle ensued between the soldier and the Palestinian after the latter crossed the West Bank barrier, reached the outpost and attacked the soldier with a rock and a knife on Friday. 

After stabbing the soldier and hitting him with a rock, the Palestinian fled the scene and the soldier was evacuated to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. According to the hospital, the soldier underwent surgery and his condition is moderate.

Meanwhile, several hundreds of right-wing activists congregated on Saturday evening in Tel Aviv for a demonstration in memory of Kim Yehezkel-Levengrond and Ziv Hajbi, who were killed in a shooting attack in the Barkan industrial park, west of Ariel, in October.

Joined by family members of the two killed, protestors called for a large-scale military operation in retribution for recent attacks. One of the participants, Vladimir Lubarsky, father of Israeli special forces sergeant who was killed during a May raid in El Amari refugee camp in Ramallah by a Palestinian whose family home was demolished on Friday night, said that "Israel must act forcefully to defeat terrorisom."

The Israeli army said it operated in Ramallah on Thursday night as the manhunt continues for the shooters responsible for a deadly drive-by attack earlier that day in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and another two were wounded, and in which the perpetrator stole a soldiers' weapon before fleeing.

The male soldier, who suffered severe head trauma and went through complex surgery, is in a coma in life-threatening condition. The condition of the wounded woman, Shira Sabag, improved on Friday.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said soldiers were canvassing the area in search of several assailants as well as setting up checkpoints, and that the army has sealed off roads leading Ramallah.

The IDF is focusing mostly on Ramallah in its search efforts. An abandoned vehicle has been located and the military is inspecting whether it was used by the shooters.

In addition, the Shin Bet security service is using its field agents and technological tools in its investigation in order to trace the shooters' tracks and their escape route.

The deaths extend a violent week that began with a shooting outside a West Bank settlement on Sunday, resulting in the death of a baby who was delivered prematurely after the attack, and continued with the killing of two Palestinians wanted in that and another attack on Israelis in the West Bank.

The military's West Bank Division is currently better staffed than usual due to the security situation, with 14 battalions in the West Bank alongside special units such as Duvdevan, border police's Arab-speaking undercover counterterror unit and the police's special anti-terror unit that has been working in the area in the past few days.

Defense officials believe the recent attacks were committed by local cells possibly linked to Hamas. One senior official, responding to criticism voiced by former officials, stated that there had been no intelligence failure – but the attacks may place pressure on the military and Shin Bet security services to reassess methods of interpreting intelligence information.