Security forces closing in on West Bank terrorist, defense chief says

Security forces closing in on West Bank terrorist, defense chief says

‘His time is running out,’ Liberman says of alleged killer Ashraf Na’alowa after meeting undercover soldiers from elite unit

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with undercover soldiers from the army's elite Duvdevan unit on October 9, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with undercover soldiers from the army's elite Duvdevan unit on October 9, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday said Israeli security forces are close to capturing the Palestinian terrorist who shot two Israelis to death in the West Bank earlier this week.

“We’re getting closer to the terrorist. His time is running out,” Liberman wrote on his Twitter account.

Liberman sent out the tweet after meeting with soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit’s undercover unit.

“This unit does unimaginable things, far more than any thriller,” he said.

Liberman also said he’s been “closely tracking” efforts to track down Ashraf Na’alowa, the suspected attacker.

Israeli troops take part in operations in the northern West Bank village of Shuweika, searching for a terrorist from the town who killed two Israelis and injured a third, on October 8, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The hunt for Na’alowa entered its third day Tuesday, with the Israel Defense Forces saying seven Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank overnight.

Israeli security forces continued operations in the village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem, the home of Na’alowa, 23, who is suspected of killing his coworkers Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, and wounded Sara Vaturi, 54, using a locally produced Carlo-style submachine gun.

Na’alowa’s mother and sisters were detained and brought in for questioning in the pre-dawn raid, but were later released, according to the Shin Bet security service.

After carrying out the shooting, the suspect fled the scene, prompting a large-scale search of the area and a deployment of additional troops to the West Bank to prevent copycat attacks, the army said.

No details were provided by authorities Tuesday morning on the progress of the manhunt for Na’alowa.

Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, a Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a deadly terror attack on October 7, 2018 in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank. (Courtesy)

Officials reportedly believe that Na’alowa, who is said to have left a suicide note before the attack, is preparing to engage troops when they close in on him in a firefight that could turn deadly.

Following the Sunday attack, members of Na’alowa’s family and others were arrested by the IDF and interrogated by the Shin Bet security service to determine if they assisted him in the terror attack or in his escape from the scene, the army said.

The Shin Bet confirmed on Monday that the arrests included the suspect’s brother and sister. The brother was placed under arrest, while the sister was questioned and then released, the Shin Bet said. In total, IDF troops arrested 19 Palestinian suspects in predawn raids across the West Bank on Monday.

On Monday night, the shooter’s relatives publicly appealed to Na’alowa on Israel Radio to turn himself in to the Israeli authorities.

Also Monday, a Palestinian security official confirmed to The Times of Israel that Palestinian Authority security forces are assisting in the search for Na’alowa.

The military launched an investigation of the attack to determine, among other things, how the gun was smuggled into the industrial park and whether the terrorist intended to take Levengrond Yehezkel hostage, having used zip-ties to bind her hands.

Levengrond Yehezkel was a secretary while Hajbi worked in accounting at the Alon Group’s factory in the Barkan industrial park. Na’alowa was employed there as an electrician.

Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29 (left), and Ziv Hajbi, 35, who were killed in a terror shooting in the Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank, October 7, 2018 (screenshots: Facebook)

The army also said Na’alowa had no history of terrorist activities and was not tied to any terror groups, though several of them applauded his actions.

Earlier on Sunday, he had posted on his Facebook page that he was “waiting for [Allah].” He had also left a suicide letter with a friend three days ago, according to a television report.

Levengrond Yehezkel was buried in her hometown of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel on Sunday night. She is survived by her husband and a baby. Hajbi, a father of three, was buried in the southern community of Nir Yisrael.

The families of Levengrond Yehezkel and Hajbi both donated the victims’ organs.

The businesses in the Barkan industrial park, located near Ariel, employ some 8,000 people, approximately half of them Israelis and the other half Palestinians.

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