Palestinian security officials reportedly believe a West Bank bombing that killed an Israeli teenager Friday was carried out by a highly organized cell rather than so-called lone-wolf attackers.
Israeli security forces were searching Saturday for the perpetrators of the Friday attack at a spring near a settlement outside Ramallah that killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb.
Palestinian security sources that the complexity and characteristics of the operation indicated it was likely the work of an organized terror group and not a single attacker, calling the killing a “dangerous” development, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported.
The unnamed Palestinian officials expressed concern over the cell’s capability to carry out the attack, saying the existence of such cells posed danger not just to Israelis but to the Palestinian Authority as well.
On Saturday night medical officials said the condition of Rina’s brother, 19-year-old Dvir Shnerb, who was seriously wounded in the terror attack, had improved following an operation and he was now in moderate condition. His father Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, 46, was in stable condition and continuing to improve.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon has called on the UN Security Council to denounce Rina Shnerb’s murder in the bombing attack at Ein Bubin, a natural spring near the West Bank settlement of Dolev.
“Like previous terror attacks, today’s attack also targeted innocent Israeli civilians and has been glorified on Palestinian social networks,” Danon wrote.
“The international community must join the fight against terror by condemning not only the murder but also the culture of incitement that led to it and salaries to murderers,” he added, rapping the PA for its payment of stipends to security prisoners and families of slain terrorists.
Security officials told the Walla news site Saturday they believed the perpetrators behind the attack may have originally intended to target a military patrol that periodically visits the site.
They said evidence indicated the cell was familiar with security arrangements in the area and may have intended to hit troops when it arrived.
They believed the cell lay in ambush several hundred meters away from the natural spring where it had set the booby trap. When it saw the Shnerb family arrive, it decided to activate the bomb against them instead.
Earlier on Saturday Israeli security forces reportedly arrested three Palestinian men in the West Bank as they searched for the terrorists. According to Palestinian media reports, Israeli soldiers arrested two of the men during raids in the village of Ein Arik. The third man was said to be a resident of the nearby village of Ein Qiniya. The two villages are located near Ein Bubin.
It was not clear what was their connection to the bombing.
Troops also reportedly seized a number of surveillance cameras in Ein Arik.
لحظة اعتقال قوات الاحتلال الأسير المحرر والطالب في جامعة بيرزيت إصرار معروف من منزله في قرية عين قينيا شمال غرب رام الله . pic.twitter.com/H6Nj1wCoOw
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) August 24, 2019
The army said an improvised explosive device was used in the attack. Police sappers determined that the bomb had been planted earlier at the spring and was triggered remotely when the family approached it.
Following the bombing, security forces launched a large-scale manhunt in the area, with the Israel Defense Forces chief saying he believed they would apprehend the killers “quickly.”
IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said the military did not yet know the identities of the culprits or if they belonged to an established terror group or were acting alone.
Channel 12 quoted unnamed Israeli officials as saying that the size and complexity of the the device indicated that one of the major terror groups was behind the attack.
Israeli military officials have warned in recent weeks of an increase in terrorist activities and violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the lead-up to next month’s Israeli elections.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.