The Hamas terror group said a stabbing attack that killed 29-year-old Itamar Ben-Gal in the northern West Bank on Monday was an act of resistance to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Hamas welcomes such successful operations,” the terror group’s spokesman Abdel Latif Qanu said in a statement.”We wish the perpetrators and the resistance men in the West Bank all safety.”
The Ynet news site quoted a second Hamas spokesman who said that the attack demonstrated “the intifada is continuing.”
The Hamas spokesman also called for an end to security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Islamic Jihad and two other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip also applauded the stabbing attack, and called on Palestinians to step up their “resistance” against Israel.
The victim was identified as Itamar Ben Gal, 29, from the settlement of Har Bracha. The father of four was a rabbi and teacher in the northern West Bank community.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the terror attack and vowed that Israel would capture the perpetrator, who fled the scene.
“We will bring him to justice, as we always do. I put my trust in the security forces who do the hardest work against these disgraceful attacks,” he said at a Likud faction meeting.
The army said an IDF officer identified the attacker and pursued him, hitting with his vehicle, but he managed to flee. “IDF troops are searching the area,” the army said.
Medics tried to resuscitate Ben-Gal, who was stabbed repeatedly in the chest. He was taken in critical condition to Petah Tikvah’s Beilinson Hospital, where doctors were forced to pronounce his death.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told Hadashot news that the attack was a “direct response to incitement from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority,” citing the funds that PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s political movement pays to families of Palestinian terrorists.
In sending his condolences to the victim’s family, President Reuven Rivlin tweeted that he was “proud” of the IDF officer who pursued the terrorist and hit him with his his car.
“I am confident that security forces will find him and his accomplices soon and bring them to trial,” he added.
“Another terror attack and another rabbi who was murdered, Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal,” opposition chairman Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) tweeted, alluding to a shooting attack last month that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach, also in the northern West Bank. “My heartfelt condolences to his family, his wife and children and loved ones. We will continue, continue and overcome, together.”
“A severe terror attack in Ariel. During these hours, we all share in the family’s pain. I strengthen and stand behind our security forces currently working to capture the terrorist,” Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni tweeted.
Zehava Galon, who chairs the dovish Meretz party, referred to the victim as “another person who was murdered on the altar of unnecessary conflict.”
“I embrace the family at this terrible moment, and hope that the security forces will capture the terrorist and bring him to justice,” she tweeted.
Likud lawmaker Yehudah Glick wrote in a tweet that his “heart cries for another Jew who was murdered only because he was a Jew,”
“No one will stop the process of redemption. We will build and build more and more and more and more. We will continue up the mountain at full speed,” he said.
Ariel Mayor Eli Shaviro called for annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank in response.
“I call on the prime minister, the ministers and the Knesset members — it is your responsibility to prevent the next attack,” he added.