After a 20-hour manhunt, counter-terrorism forces arrested two Palestinians allegedly behind a deadly terror attack at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Ariel late Friday night, officials said.
The two suspected gunmen were arrested Saturday evening in the nearby town of Qarawat Bani Hassan.
The Shin Bet security service said that both of the weapons used in the attack were confiscated during arrest.
The couple, who were arrested at home and surrendered unopposed, were taken for further questioning.
The arrest was carried out by the Yamam police unit, IDF forces and Shin Bet officers.
Palestinian media reported that the two are Samih Assi and Yahya Merhi, both of whom are in their twenties.
– New Press | New Press (NewpressPs) April 30, 2022
In the Friday night attack, the 23-year-old security guard – who on Saturday night was named Vyacheslav Golev – used his body to protect his fiancée and save her life.
Gulev, a 23-year-old former student at Ariel University, is survived by his parents, seven siblings in Beit Shemesh and his fiancée who was also stationed at the guard post but was unharmed in the attack.
Footage showed a blue Suzuki car heading to a guard post where a gunman in the passenger seat opened fire. Then the gunman and the driver got off and fired at the guard post before they drove off.
The security guard was shot and paramedics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service declared him dead at the scene.
The gunmen appeared to have used Carlo homemade submachine guns, according to a photo released by police on Saturday.
The security forces closed the roads as large numbers of police officers and soldiers launched a large-scale hunting campaign for the militants. The Israeli military said special forces took part in the inspection.
Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian media reports said that a burnt-out car was found in an open area west of Ariel, and it could be the car used by the terrorists. The car was reportedly captured by Israeli forces later.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of armed groups affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.
We take responsibility for the heroic operation in Ariel that resulted in the murder of a Zionist officer. Masked said in a video clip circulated on social media that all this activity is a response to the Israeli aggression on Jerusalem.
The terrorist group was also behind fatal attack in Bnei Brak last month.
Hamas praised the shooting, saying it was a “heroic operation” and “a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and settlers.”
The Gaza-based terror group said the attack would not be the last.
תמונת רכב המחבלים המופצת במצוד. סוזוקי כחולה. שני מחבלים. כנראה חמושים ברובה קרלו. לוחית זיהוי צהובה. pic.twitter.com/FjxMcgqaZ5
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) April 29, 2022
Ariel, the city of more than 20,000 residents, and other settlements in the area issued a closure order due to concerns that militants might attack again soon after the attack.
On Saturday, authorities put up concrete barriers next to the guard post where the attack took place. Barriers are the protection of security guards while they are working outside the guard post itself.
As Saturday ended on Saturday night, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued his first response to the attack, expressing his condolences to the security guard’s family and highlighting how he protected his girlfriend.
The prime minister said, “There is no terrorist that we will not reach and settle accounts with.” Our war against terrorism is long.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also praised the arrests of the Israeli security forces.
“The State of Israel has always defeated terrorism and will do whatever is required … to defeat it now as well,” Gantz said.
The attack came at a time when tensions have sharply escalated between Israel and the Palestinians in recent weeks against the backdrop of repeated terrorist attacks in Israeli cities that left 14 people dead.
The escalation came in the midst of the holy month of Ramadan – often a period of high tension in Israel and the West Bank.
The army has stepped up its activities in the West Bank in an attempt to quell the escalating violence. The raids that followed sparked clashes that left at least 25 Palestinians dead, many of whom participated in the clashes, while others appeared to be uninvolved civilians.