Terrorist Behind Lethal West Bank Stabbing Identified as Israeli Arab

Assailant stabbed Itamar Ben Gal, a 29-year-old teacher, near the settlement of Ariel earlier today

Ais Abed El-Hakim, the terrorist behind the stabbing attack outside Ariel that left Itamar Ben Gal, 29, dead February 5, 2018
Tomer Appelbaum

The terrorist behind the stabbing attack on Monday afternoon that left an Israeli man dead outside the West Bank city of Ariel has been identified as an Israeli Arab. The manhunt for 19-year-old Abed al-Hakim Asi is still continuing, said the Israel Defense Forces. Asi's mother lives in Haifa and his father is from the Nablus in the West Bank. According to defense officials, he spent some of his time in Jaffa.

To really understand the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

The victim, identified as Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, 29, was treated by civilian medics and military medical forces at the scene before he was evacuated to the hospital, where he died from his wounds. 

In a video of the attack, the assailant can be seen getting out of a taxi van, crossing the road and then stabbing 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.

Al-Hakim is an Israeli citizen. His mother lived in Haifa until recently and his father is a Palestinian from Nablus.   

Israeli soldiers search for Palestinian attacker in the village of Kifl Haris near Ariel settlement, Monday, Feb 5, 2018. A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man to death at a bus stop near Ariel settlement on Monday before fleeing the scene, police said. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Majdi Mohammed/AP

According to Palestinian reports, Israeli soldiers raided the town of Kifl Haris near Ariel. Security forces suspect the terorrist fled to the town and are searching Kifl Haris and other neighboring villages. The head of the local council of the town, Abd al-Rahim Buzaya, told Haaretz that the army blocked all the entrances to the town, did not allow anyone to leave and confiscated security cameras from the stores in the village. 

Ben Gal was a father of four, aged one to seven, from the settlement of Har Bracha in the northern West Bank. He was a teacher at a yeshiva high school in Givat Smuel and the yeshiva in Har Bracha.

A spokesman for Hamas praised the attack, saying it was "a continuation of the resistance to Trump's Jerusalem declaration." Hamas also urged the Palestinian Authority to "halt all coordination with Israel on security matters."

An IDF spokesman said that a “terrorist came to the hitchhiking stop at the entrance to Ariel and stabbed a civilian. An IDF officer who identified the assailant pursued him with his vehicle and hit him. The attacker fled. IDF forces are now searching the perimeter.”

“We send our condolences to his family,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the attack. “IDF forces are in pursuit of the murderers. We will exact our judgement. These are very difficult moments. The people come together at times like these. I put our faith in the security forces, who are doing an excellent job.” 

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said "it was only a matter of time before security forces close accounts with the murderer."

Last month, Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six, was killed in a drive-by shooting near the West Bank city of Nablus. The man, a resident of the unauthorized outpost of Havat Gilad, was killed while driving home on Route 60, the West Bank's main highway.