Father and brother of suspected Ariel terrorist arrested as manhunt continues
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Father and brother of suspected Ariel terrorist arrested as manhunt continues

Troops enter Palestinian villages during searches for Omar Abu Laila, 19, map family home of killer for demolition; second victim dies, wounded soldier remains in serious condition

Israeli soldiers carry out a a raid in the village of Bruqin near the West Bank town of Salfit on March 17, 2019, after a terrorist fled to the village following a deadly stabbing and shooting attack (Flash90)
Israeli soldiers carry out a a raid in the village of Bruqin near the West Bank town of Salfit on March 17, 2019, after a terrorist fled to the village following a deadly stabbing and shooting attack (Flash90)

Israeli security forces on Monday reportedly detained the father and brother of the Palestinian suspected of killing an IDF soldier in a stabbing and shooting attack in the northern West Bank a day earlier, as a massive manhunt for the killer entered a second day.

The suspected killer was named in Palestinian and Hebrew media reports as Omar Abu Laila, accused of fatally stabbing Sgt. Gal Keidan at the Ariel junction on Sunday morning.

According to Israeli authorities, after stabbing Keidan, Abu Laila grabbed his gun and opened fire at passing vehicles, hitting Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, before stealing a vehicle and fleeing the scene. Abu Laila drove to the nearby Gitai junction, where he opened fire again, wounding IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky. Ettinger succumbed to his injuries Monday morning and Dvorsky remained in serious condition.

Lila then fled to the nearby Palestinian village of Bruqin, leaving the vehicle near the entrance and fleeing on foot into the village.

According to Palestinian media reports, Israeli security forces set up roadblocks around Bruqin and briefly shuttered the nearby Barkan industrial zone as well as the surrounding northern West Bank settlements.

Israeli forensic workers inspect a car near the scene of an attack near the Ariel Junction in the West Bank on March 17, 2019. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

The reports also said Israeli troops overnight detained Abu Laila’s father and 16-year-old brother from the nearby town of Az-Zawiya, which was also surrounded by a security cordon, according to a report in the Ma’an Palestinian news site.

Security forces reportedly raided the Abu Laila home and a family-owned store in Az-Zawiya during the search.

“Troops conducted extensive searches and carried out security checks at the entrances and exits of the villages,” the army said in a statement.

The army said troops carried out preparatory work to raze the family home in the future, a common tactic used by Israel, which says it acts as a deterrent against future attacks.

According to the Ynet news site, Abu Laila rarely posted political or religious messages on his Facebook page, and appeared to be a supporter of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

The IDF said it was not immediately clear whether the suspect was affiliated with any terror groups or was acting alone.

Ettinger, a father of 12 from the West Bank settlement of Eli, was in Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital with head injuries and doctors fought to keep him alive.

On Monday morning, he succumbed to his injuries and died, a family spokesperson said.

Dvorsky, a combat soldier from  the northern city of Nazareth, was in critical condition after undergoing surgery for abdominal and spinal injuries overnight, the hospital said.

IDF soldier Gal Keidan, who was killed in a shooting attack in the northern West Bank on March 17, 2019. (IDF Spokesperson)

Keidan, 19, is slated to be buried Monday morning at a military cemetery in his hometown of Beersheba.

Ariel Junction was the site of a fatal stabbing attack just over a year ago, when a Palestinian terrorist killed Itamar Ben Gal, an Israeli father of four, as he waited at a hitchhiking post.

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