Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday vowed that Israel would demolish the house of the Palestinian who ran over and killed two IDF soldiers and wounded two others in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank.
“From the depths of my heart, I send condolences to the families of the IDF officer and soldier who were murdered yesterday by a reprehensible terrorist and my best wishes for a quick recovery to the wounded,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued minutes after the end of the Sabbath.
“We will work to demolish the home of the terrorist and will deal with him to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
Earlier several law makers said they would work to ensure the Knesset passes legislation to allow the death penalty for convicted Palestinian terrorists.
In a statement, President Reuven Rivlin sent “a hug of comfort and strength to the families of the dead and prayers for a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
“We will not rest until we bring all the collaborators to justice, we will not allow terror to become an existing reality,” he added.
The statements came after the Shin Bet security service said that 26-year-old Ala Qabha confessed to carrying out the attack.
The security agency said that it appeared the Palestinian resident of the village of Barta’a, near Jenin, acted alone, and possibly spontaneously, when he drove his vehicle into a group of soldiers standing guard near the settlement of Mevo Dotan in the northern West Bank on Friday afternoon. The army on Friday designated the car-ramming as a terror attack.
Qabha did a U-turn on the road before plowing into the soldiers, and accelerated into them, Israeli TV reports said Saturday, leaving no doubt that the attack was deliberate.
Earlier Saturday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot confirmed that Israeli forces arrested Qabha’s brother and an uncle in the family’s hometown of Barta’a, outside Jenin. Both relatives were initially suspected of helping him carry out the deadly attack.
Forces also mapped out Qabha’s home in preparation for its demolition, conducted a broader search of the village for illegal weapons, and continued security checks of cars in the roads surrounding Barta’a.
Qabha’s family insisted the deadly incident was an accident. His father told the Walla news site Saturday that his son is not affiliated with any terrorist group, and did not intentionally target Israeli troops. “This isn’t the first car accident like this and won’t be the last,” Rateb Qabha said. “You hear about accidents like these every day in the news.”
Asked about reports in Hebrew-language media that his son was known to Israeli intelligence services, and had recently been released from prison, Qabha downplayed the allegations, saying that Ala had gotten in to trouble once “for stone throwing or something like that.”
On Friday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai announced that he had revoked the work permits of some 30 relatives of Qabha following the attack.
A spokesman for the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva said Saturday morning that there had been no improvement in the status of the pair of injured soldiers, whose conditions remained very serious and moderate respectively.
Both of the soldiers underwent multiple surgeries overnight for injuries sustained after Qabha plowed his car into the troops.
The Beilinson spokesman said that doctors were still working to save the life of the soldier in serious condition as his status worsened.
The IDF has yet to release the names of the two soldiers killed in the attack.
One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene. A second died a short time later, after attempts to save his life failed. Qabha was stopped by IDF troops less than a hundred feet from the scene. The 26-year-old was then interrogated and transferred to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera for treatment of his minor injuries. He remains in Israeli custody.
While not claiming responsibility, the Hamas terror group welcomed the attack, saying it “proves our people’s readiness to continue the Jerusalem intifada.” The Palestinian Authority has yet to comment on the incident.