An Israel Defense Forces commander at the scene of a deadly northern West Bank attack on Sunday opened fire on the Palestinian attacker, injuring him in the shoulder, according to a preliminary army investigation of the incident, as other soldiers stationed at the Ariel Junction stood by.
It was unclear at what stage the terrorist — who killed a soldier and stole his firearm — was shot. He later opened fire and seriously injured two other Israelis, a civilian and a soldier, with the weapon.
According to Hebrew media reports, which cited the army, there were four soldiers on duty in the area of the Ariel Junction, where the pair of attacks began, one of whom was the commander of the force.
Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, who was killed in the combined stabbing and shooting attack, was standing with another serviceman at the junction, which is a traffic circle on a main highway through the northern West Bank. The other two were farther away.
A man, whom IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said “appears to be a Palestinian,” approached the soldiers, stabbed Keidan, and wrested his weapon from him. The second soldier with Keidan apparently did not intervene.
The commander, who was stationed nearby with another soldier, ran over, shot the attacker in the shoulder but failed to apprehend him, according to reports.
There were conflicting eyewitness reports on the number of attackers, with some suggesting that the terrorist may have had an accomplice.
According to Channel 12, the attacker fatally shot Keidan, already injured from the knifing, with his own gun. The information was not confirmed by the army.
The gunman then opened fire at a civilian car at the junction, critically injuring Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, a father of 12 from the Eli settlement. He also fired at another car, which managed to get away, and then at a third vehicle. When the driver of that car stopped the vehicle and ran off, the terrorist jumped into the abandoned car.
The terrorist drove to the nearby Gitai Junction, where he shot from the moving vehicle and wounded a 19-year-old soldier standing at a hitchhiking post.
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 forces were 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.
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.
Medics had attempted to resuscitate Keidan, but were forced to declare him dead at the scene. 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 in a statement.