West Bank terrorist admits to nationalistic motivation
Released security prisoner Alaa Kabha, who rammed and killed IDF soldier, officer with his car, initially claimed it was an accident but later admitted under interrogation to nationalistic motives; IDF operating in his home village; PM Netanyahu: 'We will work to demolish terrorist's home.'
A suspect was arrested during the operation, and troops conducted searches for hidden weapons. The following day, IDF forces put up checkpoints around the village, inspecting Palestinian vehicles traveling in the vicinity, fearing more people from the village or Kabha's extended clan will be inspired to commit similar attacks.
While the village itself—partly on Palestinian and partly on Israeli land—was not encircled, inspects continue near its entrance and exit points, with Palestinian movement nevertheless remaining largely unrestricted in the region.
Meanwhile, Shin Bet released a statement Saturday evening saying that while the terrorist initially insisted the attack was merely an accident, he confessed under interrogation to having acted under nationalistic motives.
Kabha's brother remains in custody and the degree of his potential involvement in the attack is still being investigated. Shin Bet added that no other persons involved in the attack or aware of Kabha's intentions were known at present, meaning he was a "lone wolf" terrorist acting without the guidance of a terror group.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the attack Saturday evening, tweeting, "From the depths of my heart, I send condolences to the families of the IDF officer and soldier who were murdered yesterday by a reprehensible terrorist and my best wishes for a quick recovery to the wounded.
"We will work to demolish the home of the terrorist and will deal with him to the fullest extent of the law."
Similarly, President Reuven Rivlin said, "Throughout Shabbat, our prayers and thoughts were with the families of the victims of the terrible terror attack that took place as Shabbat began on Friday afternoon. I send a warm embrace of comfort and strength to the families of those killed and we pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded.
"May all the security forces be strengthened, operating in all arenas—in the field and in intelligence—to investigate those who perpetrated and assisted in the attack. We will not rest until we bring all those who cooperate with terror to justice, we will not allow terror to become an accepted norm."
Troops also raided Kabha's home, questioned members of his family and arrested his brother for further interrogation. Engineering forces mapped the terrorist's home in preparation for its demolition.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot arrived at the scene of the attack early Saturday morning to conduct a situation assessment with GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nadav Padan, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, GOC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai, Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Eran Niv, and others.
Kabha rammed into a patrol of IDF soldiers with his car on Friday afternoon on route 585 between the settlements of Mevo Dotan and Hermesh, killing two of the soldiers—an officer and a conscript—and wounding two others.
At the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, one of the soldiers wounded in the attack, who is in serious condition, underwent a series of operations throughout the night Friday and continues fighting for life at the ICU. He has been sedated and put on life support due to suffering blunt trauma to the head.
The other wounded soldier, who is in moderate condition, also underwent a series of operations overnight Friday.
An initial investigation into the incident found that when they were spotted by the terrorist, the troops were standing near a pillbox post located between the village of Ya'bad and nearby olive plantations. The two slain soldiers were standing at the front of their jeep, while the other two stood on the vehicle's other side, near the road.
Upon spotting the soldiers, the terrorist veered from the road, sped up, and hit the officer and the soldier who was standing with him first. The two were killed instantly.
Then, the terrorist sped towards the two other troops, wounding one very seriously and the other moderately. At some point, the terrorist also hit the barbed-wire fence that surrounded the pillbox post.
The IDF's assessment is that only seconds passed between the time the terrorist hit the first two soldiers to when he hit the other two, leaving the troops no time to respond and fire at him.
The terrorist's Hyundai jeep has been completely destroyed in the attack, with vehicle parts scattered to considerable distances from the spot of the attack, which is a testament to the force with which he rammed into the soldiers.
Kabha is a former security prisoner who was released from prison in April 2017.
After the attack, COGAT ordered the immediate suspension of the permits of Kabha's clan, revoking 67 permits to work in Israel, along with 26 trade permits and four employment permits applicable to the settlements.