The 19-year-old Israeli stabbed to death at a bus station in an apparent terror attack in the southern city of Arad on Thursday night was an IDF soldier, the Israeli army said late Thursday.
The soldier, whose name was not initially cleared for publication, was later identified as Ron Yitzhak Kokia, of Tel Aviv. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
Kokia served in the Nahal Brigade, an infantry unit whose home base is located just outside Arad.
On Thursday night, police said officers were searching the area for two assailants who fled the scene and set up roadblocks and “heightened security measures” in the area. Helicopters were also taking part in the searches.
The fact that the victim of the soldier and eyewitness testimony, along with other evidence, led police to suspect that the stabbing was a terror attack.
“Following an initial investigation by police forces at the scene it appears that the motivation for the stabbing … was nationalistic,” police said in a statement.
According to the Ynet news website, the soldier was waiting for a ride when he was attacked.
Police were investigating the possibility the soldier’s weapon was stolen by the assailants.
The army said Kokia’s funeral would be held on Sunday afternoon in Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul cemetery.
At approximately 9:30 p.m., medics received a call about a young man who was stabbed and seriously wounded at a bus stop near Arad’s shopping mall.
When medics arrived at the scene, they found him in a critical condition, unconscious and without a pulse, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.
A helicopter was ordered to to rush him to hospital. Medics performed CPR in the ambulance, but were forced to pronounce him dead before they reached the helicopter, one of the medics said.