After deadly attack, right-wing calls to annex West Bank, criticizes PM

Netanyahu vows assailants who targeted Israeli family with homemade bomb will be caught, but political rivals slam his policy of ‘containment’ vis-à-vis Palestinians

Israeli soldiers set up a roadblock as part of a search effort to find terrorists who set off a bomb near the Israeli settlement of Dolev in the West Bank on August 23, 2019, killing an Israeli teenage girl and seriously injuring two other people. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli soldiers set up a roadblock as part of a search effort to find terrorists who set off a bomb near the Israeli settlement of Dolev in the West Bank on August 23, 2019, killing an Israeli teenage girl and seriously injuring two other people. (Israel Defense Forces)

Right-wing lawmakers on Friday called for Israel to annex the entirety of the West Bank after security officials said an Israeli teenager had been killed in a terror attack in the Ramallah area.

Seventeen-year-old Rina Shnerb was killed when a homemade explosive device detonated near a natural spring outside the settlement of Dolev where she was sitting with her family. It was not yet clear whether the bomb had been planted there in advance or hurled at the family. Shnerb’s rabbi father and 19-year-old brother were critically injured in the attack, and Israeli security forces launched a manhunt for the perpetrators.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his “deep condolences” to the family and vowed to “continue strengthening” Jewish communities in the West Bank. Though he did not explicitly promise to extend sovereignty over the territory claimed by Palestinians for their future state, he promised to “spread our roots deeper and strike out at our enemies.

“Security forces are in pursuit of the vile terrorists. We will reach them. Our long arm will pay them their dues,” Netanyahu vowed.

Yisrael Beytenu party chief Avigdor Liberman leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, on June 24, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Avigdor Liberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party who has in recent months become Netanyahu’s bitter enemy, blasted the prime minister’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians, calling the attack “a slap in the face to [his] policies of surrender.”

The Netanyahu government “has chosen to abandon the security of Israeli citizens in favor of buying quiet from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas until the elections,” he tweeted Friday afternoon.

The new right-wing union Yamina headed by Ayelet Shaked also called on Netanyahu to extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank in response to the attack. It blasted what it said was the current policy of “containment” in a statement.

“Jewish blood has become worthless, and the policy of containment in response to these murderous attacks must stop. Whether in Gaza or Judea and Samaria, the terrorists do not rest but Israel just takes it,” the Yamina statement said, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

“Bring back assassinations, checkpoints and demolishing terrorists’ homes and apply Israeli sovereignty today,” the party said.

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich of Yamina also attacked Netanyahu, who has served as defense minister since Liberman’s resignation from the post in November.

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks to supporters during an election campaign event in Ramat Gan on August 12, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

“Israel must have a full-time defense minister,” he said. “One that does not only handle the macro threat from Iran concurrently with his job as prime minister (this Netanyahu does well) but also the daily security of Israeli citizens. We will need to demand this after the elections.”

Smotrich also said the “quality of life of Arabs is not worth a single one of our lives….The inciting PA must be dismantled, their hopes severed and we must take full sovereignty and control over all of Judea and Samaria.

“While we’re busy dealing with Iran and Gaza, Jews are being murdered in the West Bank on a weekly basis. This must stop!” Smotrich tweeted, calling on Netanyahu to “exact a price” from the Palestinian Authority for the attack.

Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid also condemned the attack, though they did not mention Israeli policies. The lawmakers extended their condolences and said they were confident Israeli security forces would apprehend the perpetrators soon.

The Friday morning explosion occurred at the Bubin spring, a popular hiking spot approximately 10 kilometers east of the city of Modiin.

Israeli soldiers stand at the site where where an explosive device killed an Israeli teenage girl and injured two others in a terror attack near the Israeli settlement of Dolev in the West Bank on August 23, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Rina Shnerb was pronounced dead at the scene, while her father Eitan, a rabbi in Lod, and brother Dvir, 19, were taken by military helicopter to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment. Both were said to be in serious condition.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Ronen Manelis said Friday the army considered the blast to be a “serious terror attack.”

Security services were reportedly tracking a car that fled the scene shortly after the explosion. “IDF soldiers are searching the area,” the military said in a statement.

Manelis said the IDF did not yet know the identities of the culprits or if they belonged to an established terror group or were acting alone.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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