After deadly Ariel terror attack, right-wing politicians vow to ‘restore security’

Hours ahead of Knesset swearing in, would-be defense minister Smotrich says incident ‘a painful reminder’ of pressing issue facing emerging government

Medics are seen at the scene of a terror attack near the West Bank settlement city of Ariel, November 15, 2022. (Magen David Adom)
Medics are seen at the scene of a terror attack near the West Bank settlement city of Ariel, November 15, 2022. (Magen David Adom)

Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned a stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Ariel on Tuesday that killed three Israelis and wounded three others.

Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said he was praying for the victims and “offered strength to the security forces operating in the area.”

According to the Israel Defense Forces, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed and seriously wounded a security guard at the entrance to the Ariel Industrial Park. He then killed two people and wounded a third at and near a nearby gas station, before fleeing in an apparently stolen vehicle.

After crashing into other vehicles on Route 5, a major regional highway, killing one, the terrorist got out of the car and stabbed another person, seriously wounding him, according to medics. He then stole another vehicle and crashed into cars on the highway again, before he got out and was shot dead by soldiers and armed civilians.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid called it a “difficult and painful morning” and sent condolences to the families of those killed. Lapid said Israel is “fighting terrorism relentlessly,” and has recently seen success in dismantling some West Bank terror infrastructure, “but we must wage this war every day anew.”

Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich — who has been eyeing the job of defenses minister — said the attack, which came as the 25th Knesset is slated to be sworn in, was “a painful reminder of the most important and pressing issue in front of us — we must restore security to all Israeli citizens, and restore the deterrence that has been eroded.”

Education Minister Yoav Gallant speaks at the Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem, prior to Israel’s 73 Independence Day, on April 11, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Likud MK Yoav Gallant, considered another frontrunner for the ministerial position, praised security forces for being a “bulwark in the fight against murderous terror operatives who seek to kill our people wherever they are.”

During a visit to an IDF base on Tuesday, outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that “anyone who seeks to harm Israeli citizens will be harmed or neutralized. Whoever harms Israelis will pay the price for this.”

Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, said “the State of Israel has always been stronger than terrorism, and will always overcome it — and will do so in the future as well.”

Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir, who has demanded the job of public security minister, tweeted that “terrorism is not our destiny, and we must do all we can to eradicate it and restore security to the citizens of the State of Israel.”

Shas head Aryeh Deri said he was praying for the victims. “Jewish blood is not forfeit. We will do everything to restore security to the citizens of Israel and to rehabilitate the deterrence that has been eroded.”

Labor chair Merav Michaeli offered her condolences, adding that “terrorism must be fought with a tough hand, not with slogans about strength, but with actions and responsible and measured policies.”

Outgoing Meretz MK Mossi Raz sent best wishes for the recovery of the wounded, and said he would “continue to do everything in order to halt the cycle of bloodshed.”

Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari at a conference at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben Ari called it “a very difficult day,” and sent wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the attack. Labor MK Naama Lazimi said that “everything must be done so that we can live here in peace and security.”

Likud MK Shlomo Karhi said the attack is “a reminder that we must establish as soon as possible a government that will restore security with determination and strength.”

He called on potential coalition partners to drop their demands, which have reportedly held up negotiations, saying that “none of us have shoulders broad enough to carry the burden of dragging our feet” on establishing a new government.

Outgoing Meretz MK Michal Rozin said the Ariel attack showed the “continuation of the cycle of bloodshed… just condolences and best wishes for recovery are not enough.”

All 120 members of the 25th Knesset are expected to take an oath of office in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon. Coalition negotiations are in full swing; Netanyahu is expected to build a 64-seat government joining his Likud with Religious Zionism, Shas and United Torah Judaism — although gaps in the talks remain.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report. 

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