The suspected terrorist behind the killing of a rabbi Monday was detained by soldiers in a confrontation at the scene a day before the attack and then released, the Ynet news site reported Tuesday night.
According to the report, 19-year-old Arab Israeli Abed al-Karim Assi arrived at the junction outside the settlement of Ariel on Sunday — a day before he is believed to have fatally stabbed 29-year-old Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal at the same spot — and swore at soldiers stationed there.
The soldiers are said to have detained him and examined his identification, then allowed him to go on his way.
An unnamed witness told Ynet “After the terror attack when I saw the terrorist’s picture I identified him from the incident a day earlier.”
The military said a preliminary investigation showed soldiers had acted appropriately in accordance with the suspect’s behavior.
Israeli security forces were still searching for Assi on Tuesday night. In the evening clashes broke out in Nablus as troops searched the West Bank city.
The Palestinian health ministry said one person was killed and 47 others injured in clashes with IDF soldiers.
“During the activity, a violent riot was instigated as approximately 500 Palestinians hurled rocks, firebombs and explosive devices and fired live rounds at IDF soldiers,” the army said.
“Soldiers responded with riot dispersal means and fired warning shots into the air,” the IDF said.
Footage from Monday’s attack scene showed Assi crossing a road toward Ben-Gal, who was standing in front of a bus stop, and stabbing him. Ben-Gal then fled across the street with the stabber in pursuit.
Medics tried to resuscitate Ben-Gal, who was stabbed three times in the chest. He was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah, but succumbed to his wounds. He was laid to rest in a cemetery in the Har Bracha settlement where he lived with his family. He is survived by his wife and four children.
Judah Ari Gross and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.