Israeli Forces Release Suspect Arrested in Search for West Bank Killer of Soldier

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Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Beit Fajjar, August 9, 2019
Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Beit Fajjar, August 9, 2019Credit: Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit

Israeli security forces released on Saturday a man arrested a day earlier as part of their efforts to find those responsible for the killing of Israeli soldier Dvir Sorek in the West Bank.

The 26-year-old suspect was arrested in the Palestinian village of Beit Fajjar, near the settlement of Migdal Oz where Sorek's body was found on Thursday morning.

Israeli security forces also confiscated several cars from Beit Fajjar. Residents told reporters that their homes and businesses were searched as part of the manhunt and that security cameras were confiscated.

Thus far, Israeli security officials do not know if the attack was perpetrated by an individual or a group, but believe that the assailants were aided by local residents in the Hebron area.

>> Read more: Hamas seeks to orchestrate West Bank terror attacks, but is missing key ingredient ■ Soldier's stabbing may have been a botched kidnapping – West Bank terrorists' ultimate mission

Contrary to earlier assessments, defense officials do not believe the killing was part of a botched kidnapping attempt.

On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the public that "we are on our way to catching the killers."

In the meantime, Palestinians have reported that Jewish settlers burnt large crops in the area of Yatta and spray-painted graffiti reading "Revenge" and "Price tag" near the scene.

Following Sorek's death, Netanyahu vowed to ensure Israel's sovereignty and continue to build throughout the country, including in the West Bank.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the establishment of a new neighborhood in the settlement of Beit El, the premier said: "These despicable terrorists, they come to uproot – we come to plant. They come to destroy – we come to build."

"We will deepen our roots in our homeland, in all of its parts," the prime minister went on to add as he celebrated the establishment of 650 housing units in the settlement.

The Palestinian Authority has so far kept mum about the attack overnight Wednesday in which a 19-year-old Israeli was murdered, and a PA security official attributed this reticence to lack of knowledge about the circumstances.

“To date, we’ve only heard fragments on information, and the picture still isn’t clear even to the Israelis,” he said. “Therefore, it’s better for us to await developments.”

The official also warned Israel against imposing collective punishments on West Bank residents, citing threats by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to intensify protests.

How Israel responds to the attack could have a significant impact on the situation in the West Bank, he said, especially given the timing.

The Eid al-Adha holiday is this weekend, and preparations are in full swing. The West Bank’s economy is already in poor shape, he noted, and Israeli military operations would merely increase the pressure.

In contrast to the PA, terrorist organizations openly praised the killing of Dvir Sorek, a yeshiva student and out-of-uniform soldier who was stabbed to death en route to his yeshiva. His body was found on the road to Migdal Oz, a part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

“The attack in Gush Etzion is an operative response to talk of annexing the West Bank,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said. “The Palestinian people will ultimately expel the occupier.”

Hamas also urged the PA to end security coordination with Israel, “begin real, operative resistance on the ground and lead the Palestinian public in a comprehensive popular struggle.”

Islamic Jihad deemed the attack “a heroic operation that sends courageous and important messages and supports the prisoners and detainees.” The Popular Resistance Committees termed it “a natural response to the crimes of the occupation.”

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