The 23-year-old security guard killed by two Palestinian gunmen in an overnight terror attack at the entrance to the settlement city of Ariel used his body to shield his girlfriend and saved her life, it was reported Saturday.
The woman, who was also stationed at the guard post, was not wounded in the attack, according to reports.
The two have not been publicly named — according to some reports, the couple was engaged.
The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday morning that when the gunmen began their attack, the security guard shielded his partner and moved to block the entrance to the settlement, thus saving countless other lives.
The man was shot and medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service declared him dead at the scene.
Israeli security forces continued their hunt Saturday morning for the two Palestinian gunmen, whose attack was captured by security cameras at the entrance to Ariel.
Footage showed a blue Suzuki vehicle driving up to a guard post, where a gunman in the passenger seat opened fire.
The gunman and the driver then both got out and both fired into the guard post before driving off.
The shooters apparently used improvised Carlo submachine guns.
Security forces blocked off roads as large numbers of police officers and soldiers launched a massive manhunt for the gunmen. The Israel Defense Forces said special forces were participating in the search.
“It was a very difficult attack and there has been a night of operational activity,” said Brig. Gen. Avi Blot. “We will get to the terrorists. There are many operations that are being carried out on the ground, including intelligence.”
Earlier Saturday, Palestinian media reports said that a burnt vehicle had been found in an open area west of Ariel, and that it could be the car used by the terrorists.
The car was later reportedly seized by Israeli troops.
— محمد (@moghozz) April 29, 2022
According to reports, Israeli troops on Saturday surrounded the nearby Palestinian town of Salfit.
The attack was claimed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of armed groups affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party.
“We take responsibility for the heroic operation in Ariel that resulted in the death of a Zionist officer. All this activity is a response to the Israeli aggression in Jerusalem,” a masked man said in a video circulated on social media.
תמונת רכב המחבלים המופצת במצוד. סוזוקי כחולה. שני מחבלים. כנראה חמושים ברובה קרלו. לוחית זיהוי צהובה. pic.twitter.com/FjxMcgqaZ5
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) April 29, 2022
The terror group was also behind the deadly attack in Bnei Brak last month.
The Hamas terror group praised the shooting, saying it was a “heroic operation” and a “natural response to the crimes of the occupation and its settlers.”
The Gaza-based terror group said it would not be the last attack.
Ariel, a city with over 20,000 residents, and other settlements in the area issued a lockdown order over fears the gunmen may attack again.
Also overnight, Palestinians reported that a man was killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank village of Azzun, near Qalqilya.
Media reports indicated he was killed during clashes in the area.
Further details were not immediately available.
The attack and clashes came as tensions have risen sharply between Israel and the Palestinians in recent weeks against the backdrop of repeated terror attacks in Israeli cities that left 14 dead.
The escalation has come amid the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — often a period of high tension in Israel and the West Bank.
The army has stepped up its West Bank activities in an attempt to crack down on the spiraling violence. The ensuing raids sparked clashes that left at least 25 Palestinians dead, many of whom took part in the clashes, while others appeared to have been uninvolved civilians.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.