The Hamas terrorist group’s military branch on Tuesday praised a deadly West Bank shooting as “heroic,” saying the killing of an Israeli man near Nablus was a reminder to Israel that “what you feared is coming.”
“The attack in Nablus is the first practical response to remind the enemy’s leaders and those behind them (the United States) that what you feared is coming,” said the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in a rare statement, according to the Ynet news site. “The West Bank will remain a knife in your body.”
The Palestinian terror group’s armed wing also linked the shooting to US President Donald Trump’s December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The terrorist group, in the wake of the US announcement, has called for a violent uprising against Israel.
“We welcome the heroic action, that came as a result of Israel’s crimes against our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas’s armed wing said. “The Israeli government bears the consequences of its racist and extremist policies.”
The terror group did not, however, claim responsibility for the attack.
The shooting victim was named as Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35. He died of his injuries at a Kfar Saba hospital after receiving initial treatment by medics at the scene of the attack, at the Havat Gilad Junction.
The father of six came under fire in his car while driving past the junction, the army said.
Following the terror attack, Israeli leaders condemned the shooting and expressed their condolences to Shevach’s family.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement, expressed “deep sorrow and sends condolences to the family of Raziel Shevach, who was murdered tonight by a lowly terrorist.”
“The security forces will do everything to reach the despicable murderer and the State of Israel will bring him to justice,” said Netanyahu.
President Reuven Rivlin also swiftly condemned the attack.
“I was very sorry to hear of the death of the [man] wounded in the attack at the Havat Gilad Junction. The State of Israel will not allow terror to rear its head, and I am certain the security forces will bring those responsible to justice,” said Rivlin. “Our hearts, prayers and thoughts are with the grieving family.”
Labor party leader Avi Gabbay said he “shares in the great sorrow” of Shevach’s family and called the terror attack “shocking.”
“Wherever it may come, terrorism will never achieve its goal and we won’t surrender to it,” tweeted Gabbay.
Yesh Atid party chief Yair Lapid said the attackers were “despicable.”
“The State of Israel is strong against terror,” said Lapid. “I wish to send condolences to [Shevach’s] family.”
Shevach, a resident of the nearby Havat Gilad outpost, was a rabbi in a yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar, a mohel, and a volunteer paramedic.
The head of the Samaria Regional Council, which has jurisdiction over Havat Gilad, on Tuesday night slammed the government for failing to install security measures on West Bank roads.
“At this moment I must say a difficult statement but it is my duty to say it. Raziel was murdered on a road on which, despite repeated promises [by the government], security cameras had not yet been installed. If they had been, these vile murderers would have been caught,” said Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan.
“Raziel was killed near the community of Havat Gilad where there are no security apparatuses, despite repeated requests from my regional council. This terrible attack should be a tremendous warning sign. I call on the government of Israel to stop holding back the installation of security measures [in the West Bank] due to political concerns,” Dagan added.
In November, Dagan launched a hunger strike along with representatives of bereaved families calling on the government to immediately transfer funds to improve West Bank’s security infrastructure. The campaign ended with an agreement signed by Netanyahu which puts in writing a pledge to include NIS 800 million ($228 million) in the 2018 budget to be used for West Bank roads and infrastructure development.
In December, the government approved an additional NIS 40 million ($11.5 million) grant for Israeli local and regional councils in the West Bank. Yesha settlement umbrella council spokesman Yigal Dilmoni told The Times of Israel at the time that the funds were merely an allocation that the settlements receive annually.
Shevach is survived by his wife, four daughters, and two sons. His oldest child is 11 years old and the youngest is eight months, according to a local official.
His wife earlier on Tuesday evening told the Ynet news site that he “called me, and said, ‘I’ve been shot, call an ambulance.’ I’m still shocked and horrified at how easily they gun us down. We’re on our way to the hospital, we don’t know his condition. I want to ask everyone to pray for him.”
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the attack and said soldiers are searching the area for the shooters.
Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich said he was minutes away when the attack took place and stopped his vehicle to offer first aid to the victim.
“A few cars ahead of me, on the Gilad route, a terrible terror attack with a serious outcome,” said Smotrich in a statement. “We stopped to administer first aid and am now on my way home. This is an intolerable situation of a subhuman who came to sow destruction.”
He urged Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to instruct the IDF to respond forcefully, saying the situation “must end.”