'These terrorists won't uproot us; the opposite will happen'

At site of Ariel attack, Netanyahu says Israel in ‘close pursuit’ of terrorist

PM sends condolences to families of two killed in West Bank shooting, hails imminent settlement construction as response to terror

Ariel Mayor Eli Sheviro (L) stands next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the site of a terror attack at Ariel Junction in the northern West Bank, March 18, 2019. (Jack Guez / POOL / AFP)
Ariel Mayor Eli Sheviro (L) stands next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the site of a terror attack at Ariel Junction in the northern West Bank, March 18, 2019. (Jack Guez / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday visited the site of a West Bank terror attack in which an IDF soldier and a civilian were killed a day earlier, saying Israeli forces were closing in on the perpetrator and that the government’s response will include settlement construction.

Israeli authorities say Omar Abu Laila, 18, stabbed a soldier and managed to gain control of his weapon on Sunday morning, embarking on a shooting spree. The soldier, 19-year-old Sgt. Gal Keidan, was declared dead at the scene, and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, who was hit by a bullet fired by the terrorist as he drove by, died Monday.

“We know the identity of the attacker,” said Netanyahu, who is also defense minister. “The IDF, Shin Bet, and security forces are in close pursuit. We know where he lives, we have located his family. I have instructed [forces] to begin demolishing his home, and the preparations have already begun.”

Netanyahu sent condolences to the families of Keidan — who was posthumously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant — and Ettinger, who were slain in the combined stabbing and shooting attack.

An Israeli police officer is seen at the scene of a deadly terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, Sunday, March 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

“These are two people that I’ve heard were wonderful,” said Netanyahu. “Our hearts are with them, the heart of the people is with the family.”

Undated photo of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger (L) and his family. (courtesy Ettinger family)

The prime minister also hailed construction in the area of some 840 housing units approved two years ago, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday, saying building in the West Bank was Israel’s response to terrorism.

IDF soldier Gal Keidan, who was killed in a shooting attack in the northern West Bank on March 17, 2019. (IDF Spokesperson)

“These terrorists won’t uproot us from here; the exact opposite will happen,” Netanyahu declared. “We know we are in an everlasting struggle… but eventually we defeat the murderers. We will capture them.”

Abu Laila, who hailed from Zawiya, a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank near the Green Line, does not have a record of involvement in terror activity, an Israeli security official said earlier.

Omar Abu Laila, 18, the suspected terrorist in the Ariel Junction attack (Facebook)

After driving to another junction and shooting a soldier, seriously wounding him, Abu Laila fled to Bruqin, a Palestinian village where Israeli security forces were pursuing him, an IDF spokesman said.

Security forces were still searching for the suspect as of Monday afternoon, according to the military.

Early Monday, Israeli security forces raided Zawiya and arrested family members of Abu Laila, whom they interrogated, the security official said, adding that some of them were later released. He declined to define the relationship of those arrested to Abu Laila, though press reports said Abu Laila’s brother and father were among those questioned.

Zawiya Mayor Naim Shakir told The Times of Israel that nobody in the village had seen Abu Laila for the past day.

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