Yet another terror attack today – two soldiers gunned down at Givat Assaf

We are still reeling from the terror attack at Ofra, in which Shira Ish-Ran was severely injured and her baby boy, delivered prematurely, died as a result of the shooting.

We were feeling a measure of relief that the IDF located and arrested the terrorists responsible for this heinous attack, killing one of the terrorists in the process – and surprise! He si the son of a Hamas leader in the Palestinian territories:

The IDF killed the son of a West Bank Hamas leader and arrested suspected of links to the terrorist cell that wounded seven Israeli civilians at a bus stop outside of the Ofra settlement earlier this week.

We were equally relieved to learn that almost simultaneously with the arrest of the Ofra attackers, the terrorist who shot and killed Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi in Barkan in October was finally located, and he too was similarly killed during the arrest operation.

The Shin Bet said Na’alwa was armed when the forces arrived at his hiding place. He was killed by the Israel Police’s YAMAM counterterrorism unit after a short exchange of fire. There were no injuries among the Israeli forces.

Another Palestinian man who was on the scene was arrested on suspicion of aiding Na’alwa’s escape.

Since the attack in October, Na’alwa has moved between hiding places and was able to elude Israeli forces for two months.

While the IDF and Shin Bet have yet to track his entire path of escape, an initial investigation found he first went north of the Barkan industrial area, which is west of Ariel, to the northern Samaria region, and later went south to Nablus. Then, on Wednesday night, security forces were able to track him to a small structure in the violent, crowded refugee camp.

The YAMAM force covertly raided the structure, where they found the terrorist, who opened fire at them with the Carlo rifle he used to carry out the attack. He was shot and killed on the spot.

During the search, over 100 Palestinians were arrested and questioned by security forces on suspicion they aided the terrorist or were aware of his terror activity. Some of the suspects, including the terrorist’s father, were charged.

The interrogation of these suspects found that Na’alwa was planning to carry out another attack.

Frustratingly, there is no shortage of Palestinian terrorists. As soon as one is cut down another one pops up to take his place.

Yuval Mor-Yosef Hy’d (l) and Yosef Cohen Hy’d (r), shot dead by Palestinian terrorists at Givat Assaf

We saw this in real time today when yet another terrorist cell opened fire on a group of people, soldiers and civilians, standing together at the Givat Assaf junction, on the road between Bet El and Ofra – the scene of this week’s shooting. In the shootout, two soldiers were killed, one was critically injured, and a young female civilian also was severely wounded. The attack is notable for the brazenness of the terrorists, who stopped their car and got out to open fire, rather than just shooting from inside the car:

The Jerusalem Post reports:

In a devastating terrorist attack on Thursday, two IDF soldiers were killed and two others were seriously wounded in the West Bank, just north of Jerusalem.

The shots were fired by a Palestinian who got out of his car and started shooting. He then fled the scene and his car was located by security forces near Ramallah. The IDF is in pursuit of the suspect.

Scene of the shooting at Givat Assaf

The murdered soldiers were identified as Yuval Mor-Yosef and Yosef Cohen, both of whom served in the Kfir Brigade in the Netzach Yehuda batallion – a unit made up of only religious soldiers:

IDF combat soldiers Sergeant Yuval Mor-Yosef, 20 from Ashkelon, and Corporal Yosef Cohen, 19 from Beit Shemesh, were identified as the soldiers who were killed today during the shooting attack at Givat Assaf on Thursday.

Both Mor-Yosef and Cohen were combat soldiers in the Netzach Yehuda-Nahal Haredi Battalion. Mor-Yosef was posthumously promoted to Staff Sergeant and Corporal Yosef Cohen was posthumously promoted to Sergeant. Their families have been notified.

Another IDF soldier and 20-year-old Shira Sabag from Beit El were seriously wounded in the attack as well. The wounded soldier underwent a complicated head operation at Hadassah Hospital. Doctors say that his condition continues to be life-threatening.

Shira Sabag, who was seriously injured, was operated at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and her condition is defined as serious yet stable. Sabag is fully conscious and has already met with her parents.

Contrary to the stereotypes, Yosef Cohen’s haredi step-father spoke very movingly and emotionally of his son’s dedication to the army and the security of Israel:

Rabbi Eliyahu Merav, the father of Yossi Cohen, one of the soldiers who fell in the shooting attack at the Givat Asaf junction earlier today, spoke to Channel 10 News about his son’s final words.

Rabbi Meirav, Yossi Cohen’s stepfather, talks to Channel 10 News about his murdered son

“Yossi was a beautiful and pure soul. He went on a mission. We sent him with great love,” the bereaved father told the news station. “When we sat at a Shabbat meal and everyone thanked us for something, Yossi said, ‘I thank God that I have the right to protect the people of Israel with my body.'” Yossi was a pure soul, a devoted child who only wanted to help since he was a little boy, and G-d took him.”

“I served in the IDF and became religious after the Yom Kippur War. I am an Israeli, I am the product of a crisis in secular Israeli society,” Rabbi Meirav said.” I understand that everyone has to live by his faith and values, but mutual respect must be preserved, this hatred must end. It is impossible to build a home and a state like this. Beyond all the arguments, why do we only meet after a bereavement and say ‘we are brothers?’ Let’s meet at celebrations.”

“Yossi was an Israeli guy, a haredi man with a heart of gold who was dedicated to the glory of the people of Israel. Yossi wanted to be a dentist after the army and now he is guarding us from above,” the rabbi added with tears in his eyes.

He said that his son’s final words to him were: “We believe that the Jewish people is one. We must all help and give, These are eternal values ​​of human love.'”

Friends and family also paid tribute to Yuval Mor-Yosef who was kind and dedicated:

Several hours before the shooting, Moryosef told his father on Whatsapp that he had volunteered to take over guard duty at the bus stop for some friends instead of going home—so that his friends could rest.

“His life’s goal was to serve in a combat unit,” said his uncle, Sammy Moryosef. “He insisted on doing combat service, despite the situation in Israel. He enjoyed his service, volunteered and gave it all.”

“It’s hard to grasp such horrible news, he was an amazing guy. It’s difficult to speak about him in past tense,” said his uncle. “We demand of the Israeli government that the terrorist is killed, even though his death will be of no comfort to Yovel’s parents.”

What a tragic loss for the families and friends of these two beautiful young men. May their families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may Hashem avenge their blood.

It is human nature to forget these terror attacks as time goes by, so the Jerusalem Post has done us a huge favour by illustrating, via an annotated interactive map of the sites of these terror attacks, the shocking frequency of these attacks, in which 11 people have been killed over the last year:

Map of terror attacks over the last year

Click on the map to enlarge or better still, click on the JPost link and use the interactive buttons.

Israeli residents of the area under attack, the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria, are furious and fed up at the government for what they see as its inaction and ineptness in dealing with the terrorists and their enablers in the Palestinian Authority. Tonight they blocked the main road and demonstrated both in Tel Aviv and outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, demanding action.

In response the Prime Minister and Attorney General announced the legalization of about 2,000 homes in Judea and Samaria. The residents reacted cynically, saying that this promise is simply a recycled pledge from 3 years ago. After every terror attack it is wheeled out to placate the settlers, and then it is quietly shelved again. We will all be very happy to believe it when we see it.

The plan involves a somewhat complicated regulation method:

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday officially approved the use of a legal tactic that will allow for the de-facto legalization of roughly 2,000 illegally built Israeli homes throughout the West Bank.

The authorization followed an earlier announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office outlining a series of measures he would take in response to a wave of terror attacks, which included the regulation of thousands of settlement homes.

“The prime minister decided this evening to legalize the status of thousands of homes in communities throughout Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which were built in good faith and whose legal status has not been regulated until now,” the Prime Minister Office’s statement said.

Manelblit’s approval — which came at the behest of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — provides the legal grounds for such a far-reaching move.

In his legal opinion on Thursday, Mandelblit argued that the government’s issuing to settlers of (what it believes to be) state land is a “transaction” it of itself, even though the Israelis were often not paying for the land that they received.

Extending that logic, the attorney general concluded that roughly 2,000 homes that were initially believed to have been built on state land, but were later determined to have been constructed on private Palestinian property and subsequently deemed illegal, can now be regulated.

Mandelblit wrote that the legalization of the 2,000 homes will now only require a cabinet decision in order to move forward.

I echo the suspicious reaction of the settlers to this “kind offer” by the PM and AG. It has been promised so many times before and not fulfilled. Why should this time be any different.

More importantly I don’t think building settlements or legalizing existing ones should be a response to terrorism. Settlements should be built and legally recognized because it is our right – not only from G-d, but by international law. Yes, that international law that is always being thrown in our face actually supports the legality of the settlements. Our craven leaders are just too scared of what the international community will say if they go ahead and do something that supports our own interest for a change. Hint: the UN and EU and others will all condemn us no matter what we do. So we might as well act in our own best interests and let everyone else take a long walk off a short pier.

A more immediate solution to the present terrorism upsurge is that proposed by the Jewish Home party: a closure of Palestinian roads until the terrorism can be brought under control again:

“Following the severe terror attacks, we decided to… reexamine our continued membership in the government and coalition,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who leads the hardline Tekumah faction within the religious right-wing Jewish Home coalition party, wrote on Twitter.

The meeting, called to take place Thursday evening, could see Ariel and MK Bezalel Smotrich leave the coalition, which currently has a minimal 61-59 majority in the Knesset — a move that would topple the government.

Reports in Hebrew-language media said the faction intends to issue an ultimatum to Netanyahu, conditioning their coalition membership on the closing of Route 60 — the main north-south West Bank artery — to Palestinian vehicles to prevent further drive-by shootings.

“I have asked the prime minister to order immediate action including reinstating checkpoints all over Judea and Samaria, the immediate demolition of houses and deportation of terrorists within Judea and Samaria,” Ariel wrote, using the biblical-historical name for the territory.

He also demanded that the security cabinet convene by Sunday.

Smotrich said the government had “no right to exist” if routes in the West Bank aren’t closed to Palestinians, and if steps aren’t taken to legalize settlements.

Meanwhile the army is still in action searching for more perpetrators:

The IDF said it closed off the entrances to the nearby city of Ramallah and set up roadblocks throughout the area in an effort to locate the perpetrators of Thursday’s attack. The army said it was not yet sure how many people were involved in the attack.

Palestinian media also reported that Israeli troops launched raids in the Ramallah suburb of el-Bireh.

Additional infantry battalions were sent into the West Bank both to defend roads and settlements and to conduct additional searches and arrests, the army said.

The West Bank has seen a significant increase in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent weeks, after months of relative calm in the area, raising concerns of a potential renewed outbreak of regular, serious violence in the region.

The military blamed the increase in attacks both on terror group’s ongoing efforts, the “copycat” phenomenon and a number of significant dates coming up this week, notably the anniversary of Hamas’s founding.

The one question to which no one has a clear answer yet is is Iran behind this latest wave of attacks? Or is it a home-grown endeavour promoted by Hamas as it jockeys for position against the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas?

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