Victim of West Bank attack identified as IDF soldier Gal Keidan, 19

Beersheba resident served in the artillery corps, will be buried in his hometown’s military cemetery on Monday; manhunt continues for attacker

IDF soldier Gal Keidan, who was killed in a stabbing and shooting attack by a Palestinian terrorist in the northern West Bank on March 17, 2019.  (IDF Spokesperson)
IDF soldier Gal Keidan, who was killed in a stabbing and shooting attack by a Palestinian terrorist in the northern West Bank on March 17, 2019. (IDF Spokesperson)

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday identified the victim of a West Bank stabbing and shooting attack earlier in the day as Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, from the southern city of Beersheba.

Keidan, who served in the IDF’s 334th Artillery Battalion, will be buried in the Beersheba Military Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Monday, the army said.

He will be posthumously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.

Two other Israelis were critically injured in the attack, which began at around 9:45 a.m. near Ariel Junction.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement, conveyed his condolences to Keidan’s family.

US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt responded to the attack on Twitter, saying his country “condemn[s] today’s brutal attack by a Palestinian terrorist who murdered at least 1 Israeli & injured others near Ariel.”

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

In a follow up post, Greenblatt said: “Disgustingly, but not surprisingly, Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad welcomed the attack & no doubt the Palestinian Authority will reward the terrorist under its pay for slay policy.”

In the attack, the terrorist stabbed the serviceman with a knife and managed to snatch his weapon, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said, speaking before Keidan’s name had been released for publication. Medics had attempted to resuscitate Keidan, but were forced to declare him dead at the scene.

The attacker then fired at passing vehicles, hitting a civilian in the first vehicle later identified as Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, a father of 12 from the Eli settlement. A second vehicle was hit, but managed to flee the scene. A third car stopped, and the attacker, whom Conricus said “appears to be a Palestinian,” took it and fled the scene.

“I saw the terrorist. He fired at my vehicle and I ran away while it was still running. The terrorist then stole the car, and I saw him continue driving in the direction of Tel Aviv,” the driver of the third vehicle told the Ynet news site.

Conricus said that the suspect then continued to the nearby Gitai Junction, where he shot and wounded  a 19-year-old soldier standing at a hitchhiking post.

IDF soldiers respond to a shooting attack near the Ariel Junction in the northern West Bank on March 17, 2019. (B’Lev Hadashot)

An eyewitness at the second junction said she and her friend were waiting at the bus stop when the vehicle approached. “We think it was a blue car with two people inside,” the unnamed witness told Channel 13. “They fired about three bullets and hit one of the soldiers.”

According to Conricus, the attacker then drove to the nearby Palestinian village of Bruqin, leaving the vehicle near the entrance and fleeing on foot into the village. Israeli security was searching for him.

Additional forces were deployed to the scene in a manhunt that was coordinated with the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police, Conricus said. He added that it was not immediately clear whether the suspect was affiliated with any terror groups or was acting alone.

Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who was injured March 17 in a shooting attack at the Ariel junction (Nadav Goldstein/TPS)

The two injured men were taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, the Magen David Adom emergency service said. The soldier sustained abdominal and spinal injuries and underwent surgery. Ettinger’s condition deteriorated to critical by the time he arrived at the hospital with head injuries and doctors were fighting to keep him alive.

As a precaution, the army briefly ordered the closing of the nearby Barkan industrial zone as well as the surrounding northern West Bank settlements. The Palestinian villages of Jamma’in, Kifl Haris and Deir Istiya near Nablus were also sealed, the IDF said.

Palestinian media reported heavy gunfire in the village of Bruqin.

IDF soldiers near the scene of a shooting attack near the northern West Bank Ariel Junction on March 17, 2019. (IDF)

Ariel Junction was the site of a fatal stabbing attack just over a year ago, when a Palestinian terrorist killed Itamar Ben Gal, an Israeli father of four, as he waited at a hitchhiking post.

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