A terror attack in the Israeli city of Elad resulted in three people dead and four others severely wounded. Two terrorists attacked the predominantly ultra-orthodox Jewish city at a central park and a neighboring road as the celebrations for Israeli Independence day were ending.
The Attack and Casualties
Eyewitnesses disclosed that at least 7 people were wounded severely as the terrorists were armed with an ax and a knife. The United Hatzalah emergency services received frantic calls from people at the scene, one of which was recorded with a man screaming, "there are two unconscious people here, there is so much bloodâ¦ these are wounds from an ax."
The three deaths were confirmed by the Magen David Adom, Israel's national emergency service, identified as Ben Yiftah, 35, Yonatan Havakuk, 44, and Boaz Gol, 49.
Israeli Police Launches Manhunt
As the Israeli police ruled the attack as one carried out by nonâstate actors, they immediately launched a manhunt for the perpetrators and blockaded many roads near the scene. While the search was going on, the residents were instructed to stay in their homes as the security forces believed that the pair might strike again.
The Times of Israel reported the 3-day closure on the West Bank and Gaza was also extended. The situational assessment of the attack by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi was pointing toward West Bank Palestinians being involved. As Elad is not very far from the West Bank security barrier, which is often breached by non-state actors for the execution of attacks.
Response by Hamas and Palestinians Terror Groups
Several Palestinian terror groups and Hamas terror groups commended the attack referring to it as "a heroic operation" but none appeared to take responsibility.
The attack follows the violent clashes at Temple Mount holy site between Palestinians and Israeli police on Thursday, as the Jerusalem holy site was reopened after Ramadan closure to Jewish visitors. The clash happened because Hamas threatened to 'retaliate' if the Jewish were allowed to "storm" the holy site, as per the Times of Israel.
Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou stated, "our people will continue their struggle and their defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque with every means. Their blows will strike the Zionists and the settlers wherever they are." Another Hamas official Hazem Qasim said, "this is the practical implementation of what the resistance warned: Al-Aqsa is a red line."
Last week, Hamas's Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar warned against Israeli citizens visiting the site as it could result in 'violent consequences'. Openly urging the Palestinians to attack Israelis in a speech he said, "let everyone who has a rifle, ready it. And if you don't have a rifle, ready your cleaver or an ax, or a knife."
Suspects Identified with Current Location Unknown
The Israeli security forces were correct with their hypothesis as the two main suspects were later identified as Palestinians from a village near the West Bank city of Jenin. With their current location unknown, As'ad Yousef As'ad al-Rifa'i, 19, and Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, 20, are believed to have executed the attack, as per the security forces.
According to Hebrew media reports, the two suspects have a clean record, with no association with any terror organization. It is believed that they illegally entered Israeli territory via the West Bank barrier and had adequate knowledge on Elad as they might have worked there for some time.