ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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'This won't bring back Kim or Ziv'

Families of Barkan victims describe ‘bittersweet’ morning after terrorist slain

Relatives of Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi say they’re happy Ashraf Na’alowa wasn’t captured alive, call on government to raze his entire home

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29 (left), and Ziv Hajbi, 35, who were killed in a terror shooting in the Barkan Industrial Park in the West Bank, October 7, 2018 (screenshots: Facebook)
Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29 (left), and Ziv Hajbi, 35, who were killed in a terror shooting in the Barkan Industrial Park in the West Bank, October 7, 2018 (screenshots: Facebook)

The families of the two Israelis killed in the Barkan terror attack in the West Bank in October, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi, described as “bittersweet” the news that the alleged gunman, Ashraf Na’alowa, had been located and killed, and urged the government to take harsher measures against Palestinian terrorists and their families.

“It’s about time,” said Levengrond Yehezkel’s widower, Guy, who noted he had found out about Na’alowa’s death on Facebook, before state officials contacted him.

“This won’t bring back Kim or Ziv, but I had preferred that [the terrorist] not be caught alive,” he told Hadashot TV news Thursday. “He would’ve been jailed and released in ten years with an academic degree, so this is a small consolation. I never thought it would take this long.”

Early Thursday morning, Israeli forces tried to arrest him in a joint operation of 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 or the location of the raid. Army Radio said he was found in Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, a Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a deadly terror attack on October 7, 2018 in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank. (Courtesy)

According to the Shin Bet, Na’alowa was planning to conduct a second terror attack, “which was prevented with the thwarting of the assailant.” The security service said he was armed when troops arrived to arrest him.

“This won’t bring Kim back. Nothing can be done to bring Kim back,” Levengrond Yehezkel’s father, Rafi, said. However, he added that “of course [the terrorist] deserved to die because this wasn’t a normal terror attack — he executed her.”

The suspected terrorist used zip-ties to bind her hands before shooting her.

Rafi said that he trusted the IDF and its commanders “100 percent,” but not the government, which he criticized for pledging to only demolish only the parts of Na’alowa’s home where the shooter lived.

“I don’t accept half a job. If that’s all they want to destroy, they shouldn’t do it at all, it’s worthless,” he told Hadashot. “The government has to wake up and make action. Their desire to commit terror attacks should be quashed to make this stop.”

Na’alowa, 23, from the West Bank village of Shuweika near Tulkarem, was 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.

“It’s a very small consolation to know that finally, after more than two months, the military and the Shin Bet managed to kill the despicable terrorist who killed my sister,” said Levengrond Yehezkel’s sister, Shahar.

“It is unfortunate that it took so long, that there have been no steps to boost deterrence, that [the terrorist’s] house hasn’t been flattened and that his family hasn’t been deported,” she told the Ynet news site, adding that the news was “bittersweet” since another terror attack had occurred early Thursday morning.

She was referring to a stabbing in the Jerusalem Old City in which two Border Police officers were lightly injured. One of them shot and killed the assailant.

The scene of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on December 13, 2018. (Police Spokesperson)

Hajbi’s mother, Iris, also described the morning as bittersweet, saying: “On one hand I’m happy but on the other hand the pain mixes in. Anyway, this stage has had its closure.”

Tal, Hajbi’s brother, had just landed in Israel — arriving from the United States — when he received the news. “It’s as if they waited for me to return. I didn’t know whether to be happy or cry. It’s closure but it brings us back to the fact that they aren’t here.”

“It’s not consolation, but there is relief that the murderer of my son is no longer alive,” Hajbi’s father, Yehezkel, told Ynet. “We feared he would be captured alive and then we would have to deal with him in court. So I’m happy they killed him.”

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 the drive-by shooting attack at a bus stop outside of Ofra on Sunday night, seriously wounding a 30-weeks pregnant woman. Her baby, who was delivered in an emergency operation after the attack, died on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a short statement following the developments on Thursday morning, praising security forces for their “impressive operations” in locating and killing the “lowlife” Barkan terrorist. Netanyahu also hailed Barghouti’s killing.

“Israel’s long arm will reach anyone who harms Israeli citizens,” he added.

A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the ‘martyr’ Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas’s official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)

Barghouti, 29, a resident of Kobar, a village near Ramallah, was shot after he tried to attack troops while escaping arrest, 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 involvement in the Ofra attack were arrested, the Shin Bet said.

In the wake of the Barkan attack in October, the IDF swiftly issued a demolition order for part of 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.

Levengrond Yehezkel 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. A third victim was wounded in the attack.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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