Security forces launched a large-scale manhunt throughout the central West Bank on Friday, after terrorists set off a bomb in a spring near the Dolev settlement, killing a teenage girl and seriously injuring her father and brother. The IDF chief said he believed they would apprehend the killers “quickly.”
“We are in the midst of a manhunt that is being led by troops from the Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet security service and Israel Police. We are focusing our large operational intelligence effort to finding the perpetrators of this severe and deadly terror attack,” IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said at the site of the bombing on Friday afternoon.
At approximately 10:00 a.m., the explosive device was detonated at a natural spring, known as Ein Bubin, northwest of Ramallah, as three members of the Shnerb family from the central Israeli town of Lod were visiting.
The teenage daughter, Rina, 17, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her father, Eitan, a rabbi in Lod, and her brother Dvir, 19, were taken by military helicopter to a Jerusalem hospital in serious condition.
The army said an improvised explosive device was used in the attack. Police sappers determined that the bomb had been planted earlier at the spring and was triggered remotely when the family approached it.
Channel 12 quoted unnamed officials as saying that the size and complexity of the the device indicated that one of the major terror groups was behind the attack.
Security services were reportedly tracking a car that fled the scene shortly after the explosion, believing it to have been used by the culprits.
IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said the military did not yet know the identities of the culprits or if they belonged to an established terror group or were acting alone.
The military set up checkpoints and roadblocks in the surrounding area. Palestinian media reported that soldiers also began confiscating security camera footage from Palestinian businesses and homes in the surrounding area, in an apparent effort to recreate the escape path of the terrorists.
According to Palestinian reports, these search efforts were focused on western Ramallah and the surrounding villages.
“I believe in our ability to locate the assailants quickly and to continue providing high-quality security protection to the residents living in Judea and Samaria,” Kohavi said, using the biblical term for the West Bank.
The army chief visited the scene of the bombing, meeting with the heads of the IDF Central Command and the Judea and Samaria Division, the army said.
Troops were working to find the terrorists behind the attack as quickly as possible, under the general understanding that the more time they have to flee, the more difficult the search effort becomes.
“This [search] mission is being led on several fronts — the first is the intelligence front with other intelligence services, the second front is the manhunt in the field with roadblocks… The third front is the regular security effort to prevent similar events,” Manelis said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, said he was receiving constant updates on the search effort and would meet soon with the commanders of the country’s security forces.
In a statement Netanyahu offered his “deep condolences” to the family and wished swift recuperation to the wounded. “We will continue to strengthen [Jewish] communities. We will spread our roots deeper and strike out at our enemies.”
Rina Shnerb’s funeral was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in her hometown of Lod.
“Security force are in pursuit of the vile terrorists. We will reach them. Our long arm will pay them their dues,” Netanyahu said.
A hospital spokesperson said the father was now considered to be in moderate, stable condition. The 19-year-old son sustained injuries throughout his body, including to his stomach, from the blast. He was unconscious and connected to a respirator.
Israeli military officials have warned in recent weeks of an increase in terrorist activities and violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the lead-up to next month’s Israeli elections.
“The army is dealing with attempted terror attacks, with lone-wolf assailants and with terror cells,” Manelis said Friday.
Last Friday, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into two Israeli teenage siblings, critically injuring one of them, outside the Elazar settlement in the central West Bank, just south of Jerusalem.
The car rolled over after the terror attack, and when the assailant tried to emerge from it, he was shot dead by an off duty police officer who was driving behind him.
Earlier this month, an Israeli religious seminary student, Dvir Sorek, was found stabbed to death outside the settlement of Migdal Oz. Israeli security forces tracked down the suspected killers in approximately 48 hours, arresting Palestinian cousins, Nasir Asafra, 24, and Qassem Asafra, 30, from the village of Beit Kahil in the southern West Bank.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.