The Palestinian terrorists who carried out a deadly knife and ax attack in Elad on Thursday night were transported from the West Bank barrier to the Israeli city by one of their three victims, officials said on Friday.
The two attackers who fled remain untraceable despite massive efforts to find them.
It was Oren Ben Yiftah, a 35-year-old resident of Lod, who brought Asad Yousef Asad al-Rifai, 19, and Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, 20, from the security fence – from which they would be smuggled into Israel – into Elad, he said. officials.
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Upon arrival, a source from a security agency on condition of anonymity said the two men attacked Ben Yiftah and killed him. They then took to Ibn Gvirol Street, where they killed two city dwellers, Yonatan Havakuk and Boaz Gol. The three victims in their thirties or forties leave a total of 16 children.
The two attackers allegedly fled in a car and police believe they are still in Israel.
The information regarding the fact that Ben Yiftah allegedly helped the two young terrorists remained banned from publishing until Friday night for indefinite reasons. A large number of other details remain under embargo by court order.
According to reports in the Israeli media, Ben Yiftah was unaware that the two men were illegal in Israel. He had transported them at least ten times before when they went to work in the ultra-Orthodox city, and he had no knowledge of their plan to attack.
Channel 12 reported on Saturday that the two killers called Ben Yiftah on Thursday and told him they were going to Elad for work. They had explained to him that there was an urgent work to be done at the synagogue in Yehuda Hanassi Street. When they arrived near the synagogue, they attacked their victim with an ax and a knife, the channel explained. He tried to fight, in vain. He has been killed.
Although illegal, a number of Israelis earn some money by transporting Palestinians from the West Bank who have to travel to the Jewish state to work and bring them to the places where they are.
Authorities believe al-Rifai and Abu Shqeir had worked in Elad before and were familiar with the area.
The suspects had no history of terrorist activity and no affiliation with recognized groups, Army Radio noted.
Violations of the West Bank security fence, used by workers entering the Jewish state, have also been used by terrorists responsible for a series of attacks in Israel in recent weeks. Defense officials promised that these breaches would be repaired and the barrier would be better guarded. Several attackers were from the northern West Bank, prompting the army to concentrate its efforts in the area.
On Friday, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai ordered law enforcement to launch a nationwide operation against Palestinians entering Israel illegally from the West Bank and those helping them do so.
Several Palestinians who were illegally in the country were arrested on Friday, police said. Abu Shqeir’s father, also known as Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, was remanded in custody, apprehended by Israeli agents while working in Israel, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Information Bureau.
Arrests that took place when police and Tsahal deployed en masse in the Jewish state and in the West Bank to find the two suspects, from the village of Rumana, north of Jenin.
“We will catch the terrorists and those who supported them, and they will pay the price for their actions,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said after the meeting with senior security officials on Thursday night.
According to authorities, the terrorists fled in a vehicle. Nevertheless, they focused their search around Elad, and they apparently thought the two young people had not returned to the West Bank.
“Our working hypothesis is that they are near Elad, and hundreds of security force officers are currently there looking for them,” said Avi, the police chief of the Israeli police center. Bitton.
Elad, a city of about 50,000 ultra-Orthodox inhabitants, east of Tel Aviv, is located three kilometers from the Green Line that separates Israel and the West Bank.
Police are also looking for the two men in the nearby town of Rosh Haayin, the town said in a statement.
“Police and security forces are deployed throughout the city,” according to a message from the municipality.
Searches have been launched in Rantis, a Palestinian town located on the other side of the West Bank security fence, and in industrial areas in the area. The two young people could hide in warehouses or in factories, empty at the weekend, reported Ha’aretz.
Al-Rifai’s father told Palestinian media that he had not seen his son for two days and had not heard from him for forty-eight hours.
“All I know is that my son went to work with his friend Subhi in Ramallah. That’s all I know nothing more,” said Yousef al-Rifai. “No one told us that – neither the Jews nor the Palestinian Authority. . »
He said his son worked in the construction industry in Israel and occasionally helped Abu Shqeir, who is an electrician.
Following the attack, Israeli security officials extended the closure of the West Bank and Gaza crossings – a closure that was put in place on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. The posts were initially to reopen overnight from Thursday to Friday.
Thursday’s terrorist attacks followed several attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent weeks and repeated threats from terrorist groups following clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Witnesses said the two terrorists attacked several people with axes and knives in a central city park and on a nearby road Thursday night in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox locality.
With Elad’s three victims, the number killed in terrorist attacks this year has risen to 19 since March 22.
The three Israelis were buried Friday night at separate ceremonies.
“He had a heart of gold, he only did good things, and he wanted to help others,” Lior Ben Yiftah said, referring to his twin brother, Oren, to the Ynet page.
He said he had seen his brother a few hours before the attack and that they had celebrated Yom HaAtsmaut together around a barbecue.
In addition to the three victims, seven people were injured. Officials from the hospitals where they were treated said Friday night that two victims who had arrived in critical condition were now out of life danger.
In an attempt to stem the ongoing escalation of violence, the army stepped up its activities in the West Bank by conducting raids that led to clashes that left at least 26 dead on the Palestinian side. While a large number of dead attended these skirmishes, others appear to have been civilians who happened to be there.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this article