Official: Suspected terrorists in Ofra and Givat Assaf attacks are brothers

Asem Barghouti, who is wanted in killing of 2 soldiers, linked to Salih Barghouti, who was slain by security forces after an earlier shooting attack

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Asem (L) and Salih (R) Barghouti at a rally in Kobar after the former was released from Israeli prison in April 2018 (screenshot: Twitter)
Asem (L) and Salih (R) Barghouti at a rally in Kobar after the former was released from Israeli prison in April 2018 (screenshot: Twitter)

The Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a deadly terror attack on December 13 near the Givat Assaf outpost in the West Bank is Asem Barghouti, the brother of Salih Barghouti, another suspected terrorist, an Israeli defense official said Thursday.

Salih, who was shot dead on December 12 in a village near Ramallah as he attacked Israeli security forces in an attempt to evade arrest, was suspected of having carried out a terror attack near the Ofra settlement three days earlier, on December 9, the Shin Bet security service said.

Seven people were wounded in the drive-by shooting attack on a bus stop outside Ofra, including a 30-weeks pregnant woman who was seriously injured. Her baby was delivered in an emergency operation, but died days later.

Salih’s participation in the Ofra attack was confirmed by the Hamas terror group.

Amichai (left) and Shira Ish-Ran, wounded in a December 9, 2018, terrorist attack outside Ofra in the West Bank, are seen at their wedding (Courtesy of the family)

The day after Israeli forces shot and killed Salih Barghouti, two soldiers were killed in the shooting attack near Givat Assaf — Sgt. Yosef Cohen and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef — and two people were wounded, a soldier and a civilian woman.

The gunman immediately fled the scene of the attack toward Ramallah in a car with Israeli license plates and is still being sought, the Israel Defense Forces’ Judea and Samaria Division commander, Brig. Gen. Eran Niv, said.

Ma’an, a Palestinian news agency, reported on Wednesday that Israel was accusing Asem Barghouti of carrying out the terror attack near Givat Assaf. However, the Palestinian news agency took its story down from its website Wednesday afternoon, after Suheir Barghouti, Asem and Salih’s mother, complained about it at a press conference in Kobar, a village near Ramallah.

A photo composite shows Sgt. Yosef Cohen, left, and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef of the IDF’s Kfir Brigade. The two were killed on December 13, 2018, in a terrorist shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf settlement outpost in the central West Bank. (Israel Defense Forces)

“Based on what is Maan publishing a report that Asem killed two people?” Suheir said at the press conference.

Asem was set free from an Israeli prison in April after serving an 11-year sentence.

A number of members of the Barghouti family have a history of involvement in terrorist activities.

A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the ‘martyr’ Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas’s official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)

Jasser Barghouti, Asem and Salih’s uncle, directed both the Ofra and the Givat Assaf terror attacks, sources in the Palestinian Authority told Ynet, a Hebrew news site, on Monday.

Jasser, a convicted terrorist released as part of the 2011 swap that freed abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, currently resides in the Gaza Strip.

Omar Barghouti, Asem and Salih’s father, and Nael Barghouti, another uncle, were convicted for participating in the killing of an Israeli soldier in 1978. Omar was arrested by Israeli forces on December 12, according to family members.

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