Following the shocking attack, IDF officials fear an escalation and clashes across Judea and Samaria.
The settlement of Itamar is equipped with a comprehensive defense system and saw no terror attacks since 2002. The system includes various fences and observation means that alert a central operations room manned by two civilian security officers at any given time.
In addition, the community is guarded by six civilian security guards, in addition to IDF forces deployed just outside Itamar.
Friday night, an alert from the electronic fence was registered at the central operations room, prompting a patroller to head to the site. However, he did not identify signs of infiltration and decided he was dealing with a false alarm.
The security guard also failed to dispatch IDF troops who were stationed less than one kilometer away. The forces only rushed to the scene some three hours after the terrorist or terrorists entered the community. An electronic alert was apparently also registered after the attackers left Itamar following the murder.
Probe at advanced state
The probe into the brutal murder in Itamar is in a very advanced stage and has concluded that two terrorists apparently entered the community. The investigation is being managed by the Shin Bet and IDF, without cooperating with Palestinian Authority security officials.
The probe, which got underway at 7 am Saturday, apparently bore fruit already. Some 20 people had been detained in connection with the attack.
Despite the close cooperation with the PA as of late, military officials decided not to join forces with the Palestinians in holding the probe, both because of the incident's sensitivity and based on operational considerations.
Security officials are now concerned about the prospect of escalation in Judea and Samaria, prompting the IDF to reinforce its presence in the region. Officials estimate that such escalation may follow "price tag" acts by radical settlers, as well as Palestinian retaliation to such actions.
Authorities also estimate that the attack was carried out by a local cell not directly affiliated with Hamas or any other organization, and that the murder was motivated by growing friction with settlers, growing incitement against the settlements on the Palestinian street, and a desire to avenge "price tag" acts."
Yoav Zitun and Yair Altman contributed to the story