IDF chief says Israel will expand West Bank manhunt until terror shooters are found

‘We will not stop until we capture the terrorists,’ Kohavi vows at site of attack that killed Yehuda Dimentman; police dismantle makeshift buildings at new outpost named for victim

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

IDF chief Aviv Kohavi speaks with military and security officials at the scene of a shooting attack near Homesh in the West Bank, on December 17 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi speaks with military and security officials at the scene of a shooting attack near Homesh in the West Bank, on December 17 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF chief Aviv Kohavi on Friday toured the site of a deadly terror shooting that occurred the previous night, vowing to expand the manhunt until the Palestinian gunmen are found.

“The Israel Defense Forces and security forces continue to pursue the terrorists involved in the attack,” Kohavi said while visiting the site near the West Bank outpost of Homesh, according to a statement released by the IDF.

“Along with using intelligence capabilities, we will also increase combat forces and will continue to act and expand operational activities as needed,” Kohavi said.

“We will not stop until we capture the terrorists,” he added, as he surveyed the area with senior military and security officials.

Yehuda Dimentman was killed and two others were lightly hurt after they were fired on while driving a car as they left Homesh on Thursday night. A military official said the car had been ambushed from the side of the road.

Three additional infantry battalions of troops, along with special forces and intelligence units, were deployed to the West Bank following the attack, as the military, Shin Bet security service and Israel Police scoured the Nablus area for the assailants.

According to Palestinian media, at least three Palestinians were arrested in overnight raids in the village of Burqa, just north of where the attack took place, outside the Homesh outpost.

Israeli special forces arrest a Palestinian man outside Shavei Shomron, in the West Bank, on December 17, 2021, following a deadly shooting attack near Homesh (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

Dimentman was a student at a yeshiva, or religious school, near where the attack took place. Homesh is a settlement that was meant to have been abandoned as part of a 2005 eviction but is now the site of the illegally operated yeshiva.

The 25-year-old was a father of a nine-month-old son and lived in the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron.

Hundreds of people took part in the funeral that began at the West Bank outpost of Homesh. Eulogies were made there, and a procession then visited the place of the attack before traveling to Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery, where Dimentman was interred.

Military and police forces heavily secured the event.

Yehuda Dimentman. (Courtesy)

In response to the attack, settlers set up a makeshift structure near Kiryat Arba in the southern West Bank, in an attempt to establish a new outpost, naming it “Yehuda’s Views,” after the terror victim.

Hours later, the building was dismantled by police, and a dozen settlers were evacuated from the hilltop near the Route 60 highway. Two were briefly detained amid the evacuation, the Ynet news site reported.

The Palestinian terror groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine praised Thursday’s attack, but did not take responsibility for it.

The past few weeks have seen a rise in Palestinian terror attacks, with four taking place in Jerusalem alone, including a deadly shooting committed by a member of Hamas.

The vehicle that was fired on in a terror attack near the Homesh outpost in the West Bank, December 16, 2021. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)

There has also been a rise in settler violence toward Palestinians.

A group of extremist Israeli settlers assaulted Palestinians and vandalized property in a West Bank village near Nablus Thursday overnight, Palestinian media reported Friday hours after the attack.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said in a statement that the attack and apparent retaliatory attacks by settlers against Palestinians were alarming.

“I am alarmed by the escalating violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is claiming the lives of Israelis and Palestinians… These tragic incidents, and numerous others in recent weeks, highlight the volatility of the current situation and the urgency for all political, religious and community leaders to speak up and reject violence,” Wennesland said.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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