Palestinian terrorists believed to have hidden in nearby school after Elad attack

Police haven’t confirmed footage from classroom, but Hebrew media reports say the pair spent time there during 60-hour manhunt and ate pigeons they caught

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

A school in Elad where a pair of Palestinian suspects apparently hid after carrying out a terror attack in the city on May 5, 2022. (Screen capture/Twitter)
A school in Elad where a pair of Palestinian suspects apparently hid after carrying out a terror attack in the city on May 5, 2022. (Screen capture/Twitter)

Two Palestinians arrested for carrying out a deadly terror attack in Elad last week may have spent time inside a school in the central city, according to footage released Sunday.

A video taken from a classroom in a school on the edge of the ultra-Orthodox city showed a security camera that was covered with a bag, and several dismembered pigeons on the floor.

Police did not immediately comment on the footage, but some Hebrew-language media reports said the two were believed to have spent time there during the 60-hour manhunt and ate pigeons they captured.

As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, 19, and Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, 20, were arrested Sunday morning in a forested area near the central city.

The two — from a town near Jenin in the West Bank — are accused of hacking three Israelis to death with an axe in Elad, a majority ultra-Orthodox city in central Israel on Thursday. A knife was also believed to have been used in the attack.

Al-Rifa’i confessed to security forces that he committed the attack with Abu Shqeir. “What did you do here?” an officer asks al-Rifa’i. “An attack… an attack in Elad,” al-Rifa’i responded. The officer then asked him what he did in the attack. “[We] hit people… [me and] my friend, Subhi,” al-Rifa’i said.

Several details of the attack still remain under a police gag order.

According to the Walla news site, citing a security official, the day of the attack was the 17th time the pair had entered the country illegally.

They were picked up by Oren Ben Yiftah, who drove them to Elad. Upon arrival at an amusement park parking lot in the central town, the suspects murdered Ben Yiftah. They then waited with the victim’s body in the car for several hours until it got dark before they continued their killing spree, the security official said.

According to Channel 12 news, one of the terrorists dropped his phone at the scene of the attack after they killed Ben Yiftah. Detectives hacked the phone and managed to discover the identities of the two terrorists, the network said.

Over the course of the manhunt, troops followed bloodstains believed to have been from injuries the pair sustained during the attack. Several of the victims fought with the terrorists, according to medical and security officials.

Officials had said they believed the terrorists were still in the area and had not managed to flee to the West Bank.

On Saturday evening, forces found an item soaked in blood and a tree with evidence it had been hit with an axe, further strengthening their assessment that the pair were still near Elad, Channel 12 reported.

The pair were captured by security forces on Sunday morning while hiding in a bush in a forested area about a kilometer, less than a mile, from the scene of the attack. An axe apparently used in the attack was located nearby.

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