Monday, August 8, 2022

Israeli forces launch massive search for 2 Palestinians who killed 3 in mass stabbing

Israeli security forces on Friday launched a massive manhunt for two Palestinians suspected of carrying out a stabbing rampage that killed three Israelis in the predominantly ultra-orthodox town of Elad on Israel’s Independence Day, the latest in a series of deadly assaults deep inside the country in recent weeks.
Police have launched a massive search operation for the assailants, identified as As’ad Al-Rafa’ani, 19 and Sabhi abu Shakir, 20, both residents of Jenin area in the West Bank, setting up roadblocks and dispatching a helicopter.
The stabbing on Thursday night, Israel’s Independence Day, is the seventh such incident in the past 45 days, taking the death toll from such attacks in Israel to 19, police said. It came as Israeli-Palestinian tensions were already heightened by violence at a major holy site in Jerusalem sacred to Jews and Muslims.
On Friday, Israeli Police and the Shin Bet security services released the names of the two suspects and said both are residents of Jenin area in the West Bank. Jenin and its surrounding areas have witnessed frequent Israeli military raids and clashes between forces and Palestinian militants in recent weeks.
The three victims in the attack were identified as Yonatan Habakuk (40), Boaz Gol (40) and Oren Ben Yiftach, (35).
According to eyewitness accounts, the two assailants carried out their attacks in several areas within the city, including in an amphitheatre park and on the main street, where civilians were celebrating Israel’s Independence Day on Thursday, a festive national holiday.
“Both attackers were reportedly armed with sharp weapons, one an axe and the other an axe or a knife,” they said.
“One of the wounded was in critical condition and another was in serious condition following the attack. Another person was moderately wounded, and a fourth was lightly wounded,” medics said.
“We will get our hands on the terrorists and their supportive environment, and they will pay the price,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned during consultations with top security officials.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound situated in Jerusalem’s Old City, is the third holiest site in Islam and is built on a hilltop that is the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.
It’s the heart of the conflict, and Palestinians and Israeli police have clashed there repeatedly in recent weeks.
Elad’s municipality has urged people to stay at homes and report suspicious vehicles or people to the authorities.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz has ordered an extension of the closure on the West Bank imposed ahead of the holiday, to remain in effect until Sunday.
Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, whose government controls the West Bank area condemned the attack.
“The killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians leads only to more deterioration at a time when all of us try to achieve stability and prevent escalation,” the official Wafa news agency quoted him as saying.
However, Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has praised the attack and linked it to the spate of skirmishes reported recently at the Al-Asqa Mosque.
“The storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque can’t go unpunished”, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said.
“The heroic operation in Tel Aviv is a practical translation of what the resistance had warned against,” he added.


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