Seven Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank early Tuesday as the manhunt for the shooter in the deadly Barkan Industrial Park terror attack entered its third day, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Overnight, Israeli security forces continued operations in the village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem, the home of Ashraf Na’alowa, 23, who is suspected of killing his coworkers Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, and wounded Sara Vaturi, 54, using a locally produced Carlo-style submachine gun.
Na’alowa’s mother and sisters were detained and brought in for questioning in the pre-dawn raid, but were later released, according to the Shin Bet security service.
After carrying out the shooting, the suspect fled the scene, prompting a large-scale search of the area and a deployment of additional troops to the West Bank to prevent copycat attacks, the army said.
In a separate operation in the village of Beit Sira near Ramallah in pursuit of a terror financing ring, IDF troops overnight Monday-Tuesday uncovered thousands of shekels in cash that the army said were meant to fund terror networks in the West Bank.
No details were provided by authorities Tuesday morning on the progress of the manhunt for Na’alowa.
Officials reportedly believe that Na’alowa, who is said to have left a suicide note before the attack, is preparing to engage troops who close in on him in a firefight that could turn deadly.
Following the Sunday 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.
The Shin Bet confirmed on Monday that the arrests included the suspect’s brother and sister. The brother was placed under arrest, while the sister was questioned and then released, the Shin Bet said. In total, IDF troops arrested 19 Palestinian suspects in predawn raids across the West Bank on Monday.
On Monday night, the shooter’s relatives publicly appealed to Na’alowa on Israel Radio to turn himself in to the Israeli authorities.
Also Monday, a source in the Palestinian Authority’s security forces told the Ynet news site that PA police were participating in efforts to apprehend Na’alowa. 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.
The army also said Na’alowa had no history of terrorist activities and was not tied to any terror groups, though several of them applauded his actions.
Earlier on Sunday, 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 on Sunday night. She is survived by her husband and a baby. Hajbi, a father of three, was buried in the southern community of Nir Yisrael.
The families of Levengrond Yehezkel and Hajbi both donated the victims’ 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.