Israeli security forces on Monday detained the brother and sister of the terrorist suspected of shooting dead two Israelis and wounding a third in a brutal attack in the northern West Bank a day earlier, as a massive manhunt for the killer continued.
On Sunday morning, Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, 23, entered the offices of the Alon Group in the Barkan Industrial Park, near the settlement-city of Ariel, armed with a locally produced Carlo-style submachine gun, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Inside, the gunman handcuffed Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and fatally shot her from close range. He then shot a second female victim in the stomach, moderately wounding her. The terrorist then shot and killed Ziv Hajbi, 35.
The suspect, from the village of Shuweika near Tulkarem, fled the scene, prompting a large-scale search of the area and a deployment of additional troops to the West Bank to prevent copy-cat attacks, the army said.
On Monday morning, Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital, where the injured woman was taken, said her condition had improved and that she was expected to be released from the hospital within the coming days.
Following the attack, members of Na’alowa’s family and others were arrested by the IDF and interrogated by the Shin Bet security service to determine if they assisted him in the terror attack or in his escape from the scene, the army said.
“Following the terror shooting that took place yesterday in the Barkan Industrial Park, in which Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi — may their memories be blessed — were killed and another female civilian was injured, last night IDF troops, working with the Shin Bet and Border Police, operated in the village of Shuweika, where the terrorist was from,” the army said.
“As part of those activities, a number of arrests were made in the village,” the IDF said.
The Shin Bet confirmed on Monday that this included the suspect’s brother and sister were detained. The brother was placed under arrest, while the sister was questioned and then released, the Shin Bet said.
The military refused to comment on how many others had been detained in connection with the search.
In total, IDF troops arrested 19 Palestinian suspects in predawn raids across the West Bank on Monday.
A source in the Palestinian Authority’s security forces told the Ynet news site PA police were participating in efforts to apprehend Na’alowa, 23.
The source said PA security officials believed Na’alowa would prefer to hand himself over to them, out of fear he may be killed during Israeli attempts to arrest him, or due to a belief that the PA would not hurry to turn him over to Israel.
The military launched an investigation of the attack to determine, among other things, how the gun was smuggled into the industrial park and whether the terrorist intended to take Levengrond Yehezkel hostage, having used zip-ties to bind her hands.
Levengrond Yehezkel was secretary to the CEO, while Hajbi worked in accounting. Na’alowa was employed at Alon Group as an electrician.
Na’alowa fled the scene of the attack, prompting a large-scale manhunt, in which IDF troops set up road closures and checkpoints throughout the area, including at the entrances to some Palestinian towns in the northern West Bank. IDF special forces, including the Oketz K-9 unit, took part in the searches.
According to the IDF, two additional infantry companies were deployed to the area as reinforcements, along with a battalion-level command company.
Some 24 hours after the lethal attack, Israeli forces had yet to apprehend him.
“IDF and Shin Bet troops will continue to work to catch the terrorist and to preserve the security of the region’s residents, with an increased operational and intelligence effort,” the army said.
The Israel Defense Forces earlier on Sunday declared the fatal shooting in the northern West Bank to be a “severe terror attack.”
According to the IDF, Na’alowa had no history of terrorist activities and was not tied to any terror groups, though several of them applauded his actions.
Earlier in the day, he had posted on his Facebook page that he was “waiting for [Allah].” He had also left a suicide letter with a friend three days ago, according to a television report.
Levengrond Yehezkel was buried in her hometown of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel at 10 p.m. on Sunday. She is survived by her husband and a baby.
The funeral for Hajbi, a father of three, will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, in the southern community of Nir Yisrael.
The families of Levengrond Yehezkel and Hajbi both said they would donate their organs.
The businesses in the Barkan Industrial Park, located near Ariel, employ some 8,000 people, approximately half of them Israelis and the other half Palestinians.