The Israeli military arrested four suspects overnight Friday-Saturday in the Palestinian village of Beit Kahil in the southern West Bank, amid an ongoing manhunt for the killers of 18-year-old Dvir Sorek. Sorek was found stabbed to death in the predawn hours on Thursday outside the settlement of Migdal Oz, where he was studying in seminary.
According to reports in the Hebrew-language media citing Palestinian media, three Palestinian men and one woman were arrested in the Saturday morning raid by Israeli security forces on suspicion of their involvement in the killing. One suspect’s car was also seized, according to reports.
The arrests come on the heels of a first arrest on Friday morning, in which a 29-year-old suspect from the Palestinian village of Beit Fajjar, near Migdal Oz, was taken in for questioning during a house-to-house operation in the town. The suspect is reportedly the owner of the car believed to have been used in Wednesday’s terror attack. The car was confiscated during the operation. There was no confirmation of that arrest from the army, which said in a statement the manhunt for the terrorists was ongoing.
The Ynet news site reported earlier this week that Israeli security forces knew the identity of the killers.
Sorek, 18, was studying at a seminary as part of a program combining Torah study and military service. He was last seen leaving Migdal Oz on Wednesday to buy books for his teachers in Jerusalem.
The Shin Bet security service, assisted by the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, launched a massive manhunt in the surrounding area on Thursday morning and the military deployed additional troops throughout the West Bank.
The military fears the terrorists may attempt to carry out additional attacks or serve as inspiration for other would-be attackers. These concerns were especially heightened in light of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av on Sunday.
Security forces were also reportedly concerned the terror cell behind the deadly stabbing attack may have split up, making the search effort more difficult. The group is believed to be receiving assistance to evade capture.
Two of the largest Palestinian terror groups — Hamas and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad — praised the stabbing and indicated it was a response to a recent wave of East Jerusalem demolitions carried out by Israel last month. Neither group claimed direct responsibility.
In a statement, Hamas said it praised “our people’s heroic fighters who carried out the heroic operation that killed a soldier in the occupation’s army.” Hamas, a jihadist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.
Hazem Qassim, a spokesperson for Hamas, told the Gaza-based Shehab news outlet that the attack was proof of the failure of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority security forces.
The cooperation is seen as a key component to Israeli security operations in the West Bank and is seen as a bulwark against Hamas.
In recent months, the Shin Bet warned that the Gaza-based Hamas has put considerable effort and resources into recruiting operatives to carry out attacks in the West Bank and Israel.