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After murder, IDF sends reinforcements to West Bank, halts home leave for troops

Army says soldiers will guard settlements and roads, following series of violent attacks in the area, including suspected terror slaying of Esther Horgen

Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians in the village of Beit Dajan, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, December 11, 2020. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians in the village of Beit Dajan, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, December 11, 2020. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The military on Tuesday said it was sending reinforcements to the West Bank, following a series of violent incidents in the area.

The decision was made “in accordance with a situational assessment that the IDF continuously holds,” an Israel Defense Forces statement said, without further elaborating.

The troops will be tasked with guarding settlements and roads, the military said.

The IDF also said that effective Tuesday, troops attached to the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) Division wouldn’t be granted home leave.

Forensics and police officers at the scene where Esther Horgen was found dead in a forest in the northern West Bank, December 21, 2020 (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

The move came after the body of an Israeli woman was found in a northern West Bank forest on Monday, a day after she went for a run near her home in the Tal Menashe settlement.

Esther Horgen, a 52-year-old mother of six, was buried Tuesday.

Security forces were increasingly convinced that the death was a terror attack committed by a Palestinian assailant, officials said on Monday afternoon. No suspects have been apprehended.

Esther Horgen, 52, who was found dead in the northern West Bank from a suspected terror attack on December 20, 2020. (Courtesy)

Also Monday, a Palestinian teenager fired at police officers stationed near an entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. None of the officers were hit and the suspect was shot dead at the scene.

In another incident, over the weekend a Palestinian threw a Molotov cocktail at a soldier stationed near the Kedumim settlement before fleeing. The soldier, who wasn’t injured, was dismissed from the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion for failing to open fire at the suspect.

A Palestinian man is seen with an Israeli soldeir shortly before attacking him with a Molotov cocktail in the northern West Bank, December 19, 2020 (video screenshot)

In a letter dated Monday that was sent to Golani troops and commanders, the chief of the Golani Brigade instructed the head of the infantry unit’s reconnaissance battalion to reprimand the soldier’s commanders. Col. Barak Hiram said the soldier was right to cock his rifle and tell the suspect to back away after being approached by him. However, he faulted the soldier for not firing and says the fact he went alone to confront the suspect was the fault of the commanders.

The suspect was arrested on Sunday.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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