Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night expressed his “deep sorrow” over the murder of three family members in the settlement of Halamish on Friday night.
“This was an act of terror perpetrated by a human animal, infused with abhorrent hatred,” the prime minister said in a statement, released minutes after the end of the Sabbath.
Israel’s security forces are doing “all they can to maintain security, and will take all necessary measures to do so,” the statement said.
Victor Vakhnin and Ofir Shtenbaum, spokespeople for the settlement, said in a televised statement after the Sabbath that Halamish “would continue to grow” and flourish, despite the deadly attack.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman earlier Saturday visited the site of Friday’s terror attack, which claimed the lives of three Israelis, and said Israel was demanding prompt condemnation of the attack by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas, Liberman said, must issue “a clear condemnation of the massacre committed yesterday against an innocent family that posed a danger to no one, a terrible slaughter carried out during the family’s Shabbat dinner.”
Liberman was joined on his visit to Halamish (also known as Neve Tsuf) by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and the two were briefed on recent events by local military commanders.
After consulting with senior West Bank commanders, Liberman said the terrorist’s home would be demolished swiftly.
Abbas has so far been silent about Friday night’s attack. Before news of the attack broke, Abbas had said he would freeze all contacts with Israel over its actions in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Friday saw riots around the Old City and the Jerusalem area in response to Israel’s installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount compound. Three Palestinians were reported killed and some 200 others were wounded in the confrontations with Israeli security forces.
The Israeli actions at the Temple Mount came in response to a July 14 terror attack, in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers there with guns they had smuggled into the holy site. But Abbas said the act was “falsely presented as a security measure” while claiming Israel’s real purpose was “to take control of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Meanwhile, IDF forces early Saturday morning raided the home of the Palestinian terrorist who murdered the three Halamish family members, and arrested his brother.
Troops were searching the village of Kobar for weaponry and suspects. They also mapped the family home of 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, in preparation for its likely demolition. An army official told Ynet the terrorist’s parents were known to be affiliated with the Hamas terror group. Hamas hailed the attack late Friday as “heroic.”
Security forces have enacted a closure on Abed’s village, and only humanitarian cases were being allowed through as the operations inside continued.
Abed’s brother Monir, 21, was also arrested. Officials said they suspected Monir aided his brother in carrying out the attack. Security forces said they were looking for any additional suspects in the Halamish attack.
Footage released by the military showed the early morning raid.
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Also Saturday, the army said shots were fired overnight at a synagogue in the settlement of Avnei Hefetz in Samaria, west of Tulkarm. Residents reported hearing gunfire overnight. A search conducted in the morning revealed a bullet hole in a wall of the synagogue. The military was investigating.
The army said it would further boost forces in the West Bank, in addition to the reinforcements already provided due to tensions surrounding new Temple Mount security checks.
According to a preliminary investigation, Abed arrived in the settlement on foot armed with a knife, climbed a fence and then proceeded to a nearby home. He then broke in as the family was finishing its Shabbat dinner and stabbed four of some 10 people at the family meal, killing three of them.
The victims were a grandfather in his 60s and two of his adult children, a daughter and a son, both in their 40s.
The grandmother was wounded.
During the attack, the slain son’s wife hid several of the grandchildren in one of the rooms, where she called police and began shouting that a terrorist was inside the home.
An IDF soldier on leave in a nearby home responded to the screams and shot and wounded Abed through his window, according to Magen David Adom rescue service officials. An MDA paramedic at the scene told The Times of Israel the attacker was wounded by the shooting and was evacuated to hospital in moderate condition.
In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The attack came after a day of heavy clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around Jerusalem over new security measures at the sensitive site.
Tensions have risen throughout the past week because of the new Israeli measures, which came following an attack nearby that killed two policemen on July 14.
The measures have included the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the site, which Palestinians reject since they view the move as Israel asserting further control over it.
Israeli authorities say the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the holy site and emerged from it to shoot the policemen. On Thursday, police released video footage of the weapons being smuggled into the holy site.
Palestinians said three people between the ages of 17 and 20 were shot dead during Friday’s clashes. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 450 people wounded in Jerusalem and the West Bank, including 170 from live or rubber bullets.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Friday called on the Security Council to condemn the terror attack in Halamish.
“The Security Council must immediately condemn this despicable terror attack,” Danon said in a statement.
He also called for international condemnation of the Palestinian Authority’s “hateful incitement” against Israel, saying the West Bank-based government was directly responsible for the deaths of the Israelis.
In a statement, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “deeply deplores” the death of Palestinian protesters, and called on all political, religious and community leaders “to help reduce tension.”
UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Guterres also called for the killings of the Palestinians “to be fully investigated.”
Several hours later Guterres’s office released an additional statement in which the secretary-general “strongly condemned” the terror attack in Halamish.
AP and AFP contributed to this report.