There was growing suspicion on Sunday that the brutal slaying of a man in the Jordan Valley last week was a bungled burglary and not a terror attack, as originally thought.
Investigators were looking into the possibility that the Seraiah Ofer, a retired IDF colonel in his 60s, interrupted a group of men who were stealing equipment from the Brosh Habika vacation village in the West Bank where he lived with his wife Monique, Ynet reported.
At about 1 a.m. last Friday, Ofer, 61, and his wife, 51, heard noises outside their house in Brosh Habika, which he owned and operated. When Ofer went out to investigate, he was attacked and beaten to death by men wielding metal bars and axes, his wife said following the attack.
Five Palestinians were arrested Friday in connection with the attack. The arrests came after several hours of searches and roadblocks by security forces in the area.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said after the killing that there was strong suspicion that the incident, in the northern Jordan Valley, was a terror attack. Officials, however, have refused to describe it as such, and said they were investigating the killing.
“We are looking into the latest incident in the Jordan Valley, the murder of Seraiah Ofer,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning.
Netanyahu recalled his memories of Ofer, who he knew in childood.
“I remember him as boy, he was in the same year as my brother Ido. He would come over to our house a lot, a mature, serious boy who went on to contribute enormously during his service in the IDF and to the security of the country, and we send condolences to the Ofer family and its members,” Netanyahu said.
Ofer’s wife Monique called Saturday for Israel to respond to the killing with “extreme force.”
She escaped the killers by running from the house and flagging down a passing car on a nearby highway after injuring herself on barbed wire.
Her daughter said her mother had escaped through the bushes, and that “she crawled there for two hours, with no phone, no nothing.”
Ofer was buried Sunday afternoon.
Over the last several weeks there has been an uptick in the number of isolated suspected terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.
Last week two Palestinian men were arrested in connection to an October 5 terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Psagot. In that attack, a gunman infiltrated the settlement and shot a 9-year-old girl, Noam Glick. She was lightly wounded.
In September, two IDF soldiers were killed in separate incidents. Off-duty soldier Tomer Hazan was murdered by a Palestinian coworker at a Bat Yam restaurant who lured him to a village near Qalqilya. A second soldier, Gal Gabriel Kobi, was killed by what the army said was a sniper shot outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.