IDF intelligence and Shin Bet forces continued their search Wednesday for the killer of Baruch Mizrahi, 47, who was shot while driving on a road near Hebron in the West Bank on Monday evening.
The efforts were focused on the nearby Palestinian village of Idhna, from which officials believed the gunman or gunmen originated. Several village residents were taken in for questioning, but a suspect has yet to be arrested.
Despite the lack of concrete findings, the IDF eased the closure on Idhna. Meanwhile, troops tightened security throughout the area on Wednesday, with thousands of Jews expected to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in honor of Passover.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon vowed Tuesday night to track down the perpetrators.
“We will not rest until we get our hands on whoever planned and executed this attack,” he said. “We will not tolerate terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens, and will act with uncompromising determination against all those involved in planning or carrying out attacks.”
Mizrahi was to be laid to rest at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The senior Israeli police officer was killed while driving to Hebron to celebrate Passover with his wife’s family. His pregnant wife, Hadas, was moderately injured in the attack and was transferred to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for treatment. The couple’s five children spent the holiday with their relatives as planned, and on Monday night were informed by their mother of their father’s death.
Hadas Mizrahi told the Ynet news website that, while driving, her husband had seen the terrorist and cried, “They’re shooting, they’re shooting, there’s a terrorist.” After her husband was shot, she took the wheel, drove out of sight, and alerted the authorities.
“I covered my blood with a rag,” said Hadas, who was shot twice and broke a rib. “I saw that Baruch was dead. When the soldiers arrived, I told them, ‘Bandage me and take the children to the armored vehicle, so that they don’t see their father lying [there] dead.’
“I will be strong for the children, because that’s what Baruch would have wanted,” she added.
Hadas Mizrahi also appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off on prisoner releases as part of efforts to extend peace talks with the Palestinians.
“Terrorists see they can kill us and be released without receiving appropriate punishment,” she said. “This is not the solution.
“So that there shouldn’t be more families like us, [we] must not release more terrorists,” she added.
Israel’s chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, is slated to meet with Palestinian negotiators Wednesday to discuss options for extending the negotiations beyond their April 29 deadline.
On Tuesday evening, Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian Authority for the “reprehensible” attack, and blasted it for failing to condemn the fatal shooting.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.