Palestinian seriously wounds soldier in West Bank attack before fleeing
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Palestinian seriously wounds soldier in West Bank attack before fleeing

Army launches search for assailant near Beit El settlement, says serviceman taken to hospital with stab wounds, severe head injury

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers guard the scene of a terrorist shooting attack near Givat Assaf, in the central West Bank, on December 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli soldiers guard the scene of a terrorist shooting attack near Givat Assaf, in the central West Bank, on December 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli soldier and bashed his head with a rock, seriously injuring him, at a military post outside the Beit El settlement in the central West Bank on Friday, the army said.

The assailant then fled the scene, prompting a manhunt.

The Israel Defense Forces said a fight broke out between the two after the Palestinian attacker broke into the military position near Beit El, outside Ramallah, where Israeli forces have been searching for the terrorist who committed a shooting attack on Thursday, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring a third serviceman and a civilian woman.

“During [the fight], a terrorist struck the soldier with a rock from a short range,” the army said.

The military later added that further investigation revealed that the assailant had stabbed the soldier as well.

According to the IDF, the assailant was also injured in the attack, though it was not immedately clear to what degree.

“The investigation is continuing,” the army said.

The 21-year-old soldier was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in serious condition.

The serviceman was unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator. Doctors said he was in life-threatening condition.

Troops launched searches in the area to find the attacker.

The attack took place close to the site of Thursday’s deadly terror shooting, at a bus stop near the Givat Assaf outpost.

The soldier who was injured in the shooting attack remained in critical condition Friday, while doctors said the condition of the woman who was seriously wounded had improved.

The Israeli military launched a manhunt in the Ramallah area for the terrorists and sent additional forces to the West Bank to assist in the search, as well as to boost security near settlements and roads.

During overnight raids, soldiers arrested 40 Palestinians throughout the West Bank who were suspected of involvement in terror and rioting, 37 of whom the Israel Defense Forces said were known Hamas operatives.

Thursday’s attack came on the heels of a shooting Sunday by Palestinian terrorists outside the Ofra settlement, in which seven Israelis were injured. Among the wounded was a pregnant woman whose baby died after being delivered prematurely.

A senior IDF commander indicated the same Hamas terror cell carried out the two drive-by shooting attacks, which occurred along the same highway.

Israeli soldiers, medical officials and police inspect the scene of a terrorist shooting attack near Givat Assaf, in the central West Bank, on December 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Additionally, a Palestinian stabbed two Border Police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City early Thursday before being shot dead.

Late Wednesday night, Israeli security forces conducted a series of raids in the Ramallah area to find the terrorists responsible for Sunday’s shooting. At least four suspects were arrested and one, Salih Omar Barghouti, 29, was shot dead after troops said he tried to attack them while attempting to escape in the village of Kobar, outside Ramallah. Hamas later claimed Barghouti as a member.

Hours after the Givat Assaf shooting attack, the army said a Palestinian man attempted to ram his car into a group of soldiers who were taking part in the effort to find the gunman outside the town of el-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah. The troops opened fire, killing the man, later identified by Palestinian officials as Hamdan al-Arda. One soldier was lightly injured. The Palestinian man’s family denied the army’s claims, saying it was not an attack, but rather a traffic accident. Arda, a 56-year-old aluminum factory owner, was hard of hearing, his relatives told the Haaretz daily.

Separately, Israeli troops located a terrorist who killed two Israelis in October at the Barkan industrial zone after a two-month manhunt. The suspect was killed in a shootout with troops overnight Wednesday-Thursday.

There has been an increase in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent weeks, after months of relative calm in the area, raising concerns of a potential renewed outbreak of regular, serious violence in the region.

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