VIDEO - Four Israelis, including a couple and a young woman, were killed Thursday evening when a terrorist blew himself up inside the couple’s vehicle near a gas station at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Kedumim. A fourth body found at the site later is believed to be that of an Israeli teenager.
The terrorist hitched a ride with the Israelis dressed up as a haredi man.
Attack scene (Photo: Reuters)
The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's armed wing, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Terrorist was disguised as Jewish hitchhiker. (Video: IDF)
Raffie and Helena Halevy have been identified as the couple killed in the attack. They will be laid to rest on Sunday in the settlement’s cemetery. The two remaining victims have not been identified.
An IDF investigation into the attack revealed that the car contained an Israeli couple apparently traveling from Kfar Saba to Kedumim. They reportedly picked up a young woman and the disguised terrorist at a hitchhiking post near the Karnei Shomron settlement, a six minute drive from the entrance to Kedumim, where the terrorist blew himself up.
It remains unclear whether the terrorist was wearing an explosives belt or a rucksack with explosives.
Senior al-Aqsa Brigades member Abu Rish confirmed to Ynet that the terrorist was disguised as an Israeli upon stepping into the vehicle, adding that “there were four other people who were killed besides the terrorists.”
Palestinian sources reported that the terrorist, identified as 24-year-old bachelor Mahmoud Masharka from the El Bureij refugee camp near Hebron, was wanted by the IDF since almost the beginning of the intifada, mainly for his Islamic Jihad-related activity, but he was able to escape to Hebron and lived at the El Ein refugee camp in Nablus.
Earlier it was estimated that several terrorists sat in the car and accidentally detonated it, but apparently this was not the case.
A senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades told Ynet following the attack that the organization is preparing additional terror attacks in response to the IDF's killing and targeting of organization members.
He stated that the car bomb in Kedumim included "a brilliant diversion."
Large police and IDF forces made their way to the scene of the explosion.
The car was completely disintegrated, and shrapnel from the vehicle flew dozens of meters in every direction; the blast was clearly heard in Kedumim.
'The lights went out for a few minutes'
Yitzhak Weinberg, a Zaka rescue service volunteer who arrived at the scene, told Ynet earlier “I saw a car go up in smoke, totally devastated. There is more than one casualty. Body parts are scattered all over."
Kedumim Council Head Daniella Weiss told Ynet following the explosion that as early as yesterday (Wednesday) residents saw a terrorist walking around here. The residents complained to the IDF and he was caught. It turns out that he was wanted by the Shin Bet and that it was only a ‘preview’ for what happened tonight.
“We are soft on the enemy…we must hurt them in such a way that they will not hang their heads high,” she added.
Kedumim resident Aryeh Edlis told Ynet “we were sitting at home and suddenly we heard a loud blast and the lights went out for a few minutes.”
On Wednesday a would-be suicide bomber carrying a 10-kilogram (22 pounds) explosives belt was caught at the Bekaot checkpoint. In October 2002 a suicide bomber blew himself up near an army bus parked in a gas station at the entrance to the West Bank town of Ariel; three officers were killed in the attack.
Ali Waked contributed to the report