After a two-month manhunt, Israeli forces found and killed a Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a brutal terror attack in which he shot dead two Israeli coworkers in a West Bank factory, the Shin Bet security service said early Thursday.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the suspect opened fire at the Israeli security officers who came to arrest him. The troops shot back, killing him.
On October 7, Ashraf Na’alowa, 23, allegedly killed his coworkers Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi at a factory where all three worked in the Barkan Industrial Zone. Another Israeli woman was also injured in the attack.
According to the Shin Bet, Na’alowa appeared to be planning to conduct a second terror attack, “which was prevented with the thwarting of the assailant.”
The security service said when the troops arrived he shot toward them with the same Carlo-style submachine gun used in the Barkan attack.
Na’alowa, from the West Bank village of Shuweika near Tulkarem, remained on the run for over two months, repeatedly eluding capture by Israel security forces. A number of his relatives and alleged accomplices were detained and indicted as part of the manhunt.
Early Thursday morning, Israeli forces tried to arrest him in a joint operation between the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police. He was killed during the arrest, the Shin Bet said, without providing additional information on the circumstances.
The raid itself was led by the Shin Bet and the police’s Special Central Unit, known by its Hebrew acronym Yamam, which conducts counter-terrorism operations and also functions as a SWAT team.
The Shin Bet gave no further details on the location of the raid, saying only that he was found following a wide-ranging intelligence effort.
Army Radio said he was found in Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Na’alowa was the second suspected terrorist killed in a matter of hours.
Late Wednesday, Israeli forces killed Salih Omar Barghouti, who was suspected of carrying out a drive-by shooting attack at a bus stop outside of Ofra on Sunday night, hitting a 30-weeks pregnant woman who was seriously injured. The baby was delivered in an emergency operation, but died earlier Wednesday.
Barghouti, 29, a resident of Kobar, a village near Ramallah, was killed Wednesday evening after he tried to attack troops while escaping arrest and was shot, the Shin Bet said, adding that he was believed to have carried out the Ofra terror attack.
Hamas later claimed Barghouti as a member, calling the attack “heroic.”
Four other people suspected of being involved in the attack were arrested, the Shin Bet said.
During the searches for Na’alowa, several of his relatives were arrested and charged last Thursday with failing to prevent his crime.
His father, Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, was charged in a West Bank military court with both failing to prevent the attack and interfering with the investigation.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, Na’alowa’s father knew that his son intended to commit a terror attack and that he’d been training with a gun in the weeks prior to the killings.
— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) December 13, 2018
Na’alowa’s mother, Wafaa Na’alowa, and brother, Amjad Na’alowa, were indicted last month on similar charges.
His father Walid was also charged with interfering in the search by trying to hide Na’alowa’s car.
Following the attack, the IDF swiftly issued a demolition order for Na’alowa’s home, in keeping with the Israeli policy of razing homes of convicted Palestinian terrorists.
The High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction last month preventing the demolition following an appeal from Na’alowa’s family.
In most cases, demolition orders are issued after a suspect has confessed, or has been convicted in court. However in Na’alowa’s case, the IDF decided to go ahead with the punitive measure because the Shin Bet security service had significant incriminating evidence against him, the Ynet news site reported.
A notice distributed by IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan said the basement and ground floors of Na’alowa’s home, where the suspected assailant lived, would be destroyed.
The families of the victims have demanded more severe reprisal measures from Israel against Na’alowa and his family.
At a memorial rally held at the Barkan complex last week, Levengrond Yehezkel’s father, Rafi, said the family demanded that Na’alowa be put to death if caught. Israel does not currently carry the death penalty for murder or terrorism.
Hajbi’s brother Tal criticized the IDF for the decision to demolish only the basement and ground floors of the Na’alowa home.
“A partial demolition of the terrorist’s home is unacceptable. The whole home must be razed,” Hajbi said, “and the family must be expelled.”
The military was investigating the Barkan attack to determine, among other things, how the gun was smuggled into the industrial park and whether the terrorist had intended to take Levengrond Yehezkel hostage, having used zip-ties to bind her hands before shooting her.
Levengrond was a secretary and Hajbi worked in accounting at the Alon Group’s factory in the industrial park. Na’alowa was employed there as an electrician.