IDF troops arrest suspected accomplice of Barkan terrorist — report

Palestinian media says Israeli forces operating in fugitive Ashraf Na’alowa’s West Bank village surrounded a school under construction, broke down doors

File: Israeli troops take part in operations in the northern West Bank village of Shuweika on October 7, 2018, amid the manhunt for Barkan shooter Ashraf Na'alowa. (Israel Defense Forces)
File: Israeli troops take part in operations in the northern West Bank village of Shuweika on October 7, 2018, amid the manhunt for Barkan shooter Ashraf Na'alowa. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF troops operating in the northern West Bank village of Shuweika Saturday morning arrested a man suspected of aiding the escaped terrorist who killed two Israelis at the Barkan Industrial Zone earlier this month, Hadashot TV news reported, citing Palestinian media.

Earlier Palestinian media reported forces had surrounded a school under construction in the village, broke down its doors and called on the fugitive terrorist Ashraf Na’alowa to surrender.

Media reports also said soldiers fired tear gas canisters at Palestinians in the area, possibly in response to rioting.

The IDF confirmed it had operated in the village but would not give more details.

Troops on sweeps of the area Thursday hung posters throughout the nearby northern West Bank city of Tulkarem warning residents not to help the suspected terrorist evade capture.

The army said in the posters that anyone caught aiding Na’alowa “will be subject to legal ramifications including extended detention, home demolition and the cancellation of [work] permits for themselves and their families. We will not hesitate to punish anyone who helps the suspect.”

The IDF also used loudspeakers in the city to call on Na’alowa to turn himself in.

The move comes after officials delivered a demolition order to Na’alowa’s family home on Monday. The order was served to his parents, the IDF said in a statement.

Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, a Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a deadly terror attack on October 7, 2018 in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank. (Courtesy).

Na’alowa has been on the run since killing Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi on October 7 at the factory in the Barkan Industrial Zone where he was employed. A third Israeli, Sara Vaturi, was wounded in the attack.

The day after the shooting, the shooter’s relatives publicly appealed to Na’alowa on Israel Radio to turn himself in to Israeli authorities.

A Palestinian security official has confirmed to The Times of Israel that Palestinian Authority security forces are assisting in the search for Na’alowa.

Last week, Na’alowa’s sister Fayrouz was arrested at her home in the West Bank city of Nablus in connection with the manhunt for her brother, the Shin Bet said. Fayrouz had previously been questioned by Israeli forces, but was released. Na’alowa’s brother was arrested the day after the attack.

The Shin Bet refused to say on what grounds Fayrouz had been arrested. Na’alowa’s mother and other sisters were also detained and brought in for questioning following the attack, but were later released.

Officials reportedly believe that Na’alowa, who is said to have left a suicide note before the attack, is preparing to engage troops when they close in on him in a firefight that could turn deadly.

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 had intended to take Levengrond Yehezkel hostage, having used zip-ties to bind her hands before shooting her.

Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29 (left), and Ziv Hajbi, 35, who were killed in a terror shooting in the Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank, October 7, 2018 (screenshots: Facebook)

Levengrond Yehezkel was a secretary while Hajbi worked in accounting at the Alon Group’s factory in the industrial park. Na’alowa was employed there as an electrician.

The army has said Na’alowa had no history of terrorist activities and was not tied to any terror groups, though several of them applauded his actions.

Jacob Magid and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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