IDF forces early Saturday morning raided the home of the Palestinian terrorist who murdered three members of an Israeli family the previous evening, and arrested his brother.
Troops were searching the village for weaponry and suspects. They also mapped the family home of the 19-year-old killer in preparation for its likely demolition.
Following Friday’s terror attack, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had held an emergency meeting of top army brass to discuss events.
Military leadership decided to temporarily enact a closure on terrorist Omar al-Abed’s hometown of Kobar, north of Ramallah, and to conduct searches in his family’s home.
Footage released by the military showed the early morning raid.
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On Saturday morning Eisenkot and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited the site of the attack in the settlement of Halamish and were briefed by local military commanders.
An army official told Ynet the 19-year-old assailant’s parents were known to be affiliated with the Hamas terror group. Hamas hailed the attack late Friday as “heroic.”
Ibrahim al-Abed, an uncle, said troops searched the family home and arrested Omar’s brother Monir, 21. Officials said they suspected Monir had aided his brother in carrying out the attack.
Security forces said they were looking for any additional suspects in the Halamish attack.
The army also said it would further boost forces in the West Bank, in addition to the reinforcements already provided due to tensions surrounding new Temple Mount security checks.
Three family members were killed in the Friday night attack in the settlement of Halamish, just a few kilometers northwest of Kobar.
According to a preliminary investigation, Abed arrived in the settlement on foot armed with a knife, climbed a fence and chose the last house on a street near it. He broke a window and entered the home, surprising a family of about 10 inside as they were finishing their dinner.
He then lunged at family members with his knife and began stabbing them. A father in his 60s and his two children — a son and a daughter in their 40s — were badly injured. All three alter died of their wounds.
During the attack, another daughter hid several of the grandchildren in one of the rooms, where she called police and began shouting that a terrorist was inside the home.
An IDF soldier on leave in a nearby home responded to the screams and shot and wounded Abed through his window, according to Magen David Adom rescue service officials. An MDA paramedic at the scene told The Times of Israel the attacker was wounded by the shooting and was evacuated to hospital in moderate condition.
The family mother, in her 60s, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition.
In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The attack came after a day of heavy clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around Jerusalem over new security measures at the sensitive site, following a terror attack on July 14 in which three Israeli Arabs killed two Israeli police officers at the site.
Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces during Friday’s protests.
Hebrew media, citing Palestinian sources, reported that two hours before the attack in Halamish on Friday, the terrorist published a post on Facebook calling for the need to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount alongside the Dome of the Rock sanctuary.
The IDF released a photo of the post in which he wrote, according to a translation: “I have many dreams and aspirations. I know that with Allah my dreams will come true. I loved life, making people smile, but what kind of life is this? They kill our women and youth, defile our Aqsa while we sleep.”
“Take your weapons and resist… I only have a knife and it will answer the call of Al-Aqsa. You start a war amongst us and Allah will judge you for it,” he wrote. “I hope that after me there will come men who beat you with an iron fist. I know I am going and will not return,” he wrote bidding farewell to his family.
A senior IDF official said that the terrorist was affiliated with Hamas but was not an activist.
Hamas praised the attack as “heroic,” and said it came after “Israel’s attacks on the rights of our people in Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
MDA paramedics described a “very difficult” scene in the house in the settlement, also known as Neve Tsuf.
“When we went into the house we saw four casualties lying [on the floor] with stab wounds. Three of them were unconscious, with no pulse and [were] not breathing,” said Ohad Amitoun with Magen David Adom.
“Another 60-year-old woman was conscious and suffered stab wounds to her upper body. She was treated at the scene and was evacuated by an MDA intensive care ambulance. She was in moderate-serious condition,” he added.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Friday called on the Security Council to condemn the terror attack in Halamish.
“The Security Council must immediately condemn this despicable terror attack,” Danon said in a statement.
He also called for international condemnation of the Palestinian Authority’s “hateful incitement” against Israel, saying the West Bank-based government was directly responsible for the deaths of the Israelis.
In a statement, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “deeply deplores” the death of Palestinian protesters, and called on all political, religious and community leaders “to help reduce tension.”
UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Guterres also called for the killings of the Palestinians “to be fully investigated.”
Several hours later Guterres’s office released an additional statement in which the secretary-general “strongly condemned” the terror attack in Halamish.
AP contributed to this report.