The terrorist behind the shooting attack in the West Bank fired at close range and escaped holding the personal weapon of one of the IDF soldiers killed in the attack, according to investigation materials revealed Friday.
The initial investigation also indicates that the terrorist group is comprised of several members and prepared a hiding place in advance.
Three soldiers were stationed in the West Bank outpost of Giv'at Asaf to secure a bus stop at the intersection. Two of them, Sergeant Yosef Cohen, aged 19 from Beit Shemesh, and 20-year-old Staff Sergeant Yovel Moryosef from Ashkelon were killed during the attack, when a gunman leaped out of his car and opened fire at close range.
The attacker seriously wounded two other people. One of the two, a civilian, is reportedly improving from her wounds, while the second injured man, another combat soldier, is still fighting for his life.
According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, security forces arrested overnight Thursday dozens of Hamas activists in the West Bank as the army intensified a crackdown in response to the deadly attack. Some 70 Hamas members, including lawmakers, were arrested, including about 40 wanted Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and violent disturbances, 37 of whom are known Hamas operatives.
In addition, soldiers from IDF's elite Duvdevan unit and Border Police's counterterrorism unit Yamam were operating deep inside Palestinian territories throughout Thursday to increase pressure on the terrorist group behind the attacks. Yet no arrests have been made.
The army bolstered its troops and placed a closure on the area following the attack. The closure extends to and includes the city of Ramallah, which is the seat the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. The IDF expressed concern that the shooting could lead to copycat attacks and said it was exploring the possibility of a link between the shooting and Sunday's terror attack at the Ofra settlement.
During the hunt for the assailants, hundreds of Palestinians clashed with IDF forces near Al-Bireh, a Palestinian city located northeast of Ramallah. The Israeli troops responded with crowd dispersal measures. One soldier was lightly wounded by a Palestinian who threw a stone at his face.
Earlier Thursday, an IDF soldier was lightly wounded in a car-ramming attack in Al-Bireh. The driver, 60, was shot dead by forces on the ground.
Per the request of Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benjamin Netanyahu, the defense establishment is examining the possibility of revoking work and entry permits from relatives of the terrorists who participated in terror attacks this week.
During discussions held by Netanyahu, the prime minister directed security officials to take a series of steps, including an increase in administrative detentions of Hamas members in the West Bank, placing more closure on area roads, and regulating the status of thousands of homes whose status has not yet been settled. Netanyahu conveyed a firm message to Hamas: “there will be no ceasefire in Gaza while there is use of fire in Judea and Samaria."
IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot held a situation assessment Thursday, which was attended by several IDF and Shin Bet officials. Eisenkot noted that the determination, adherence and the productive cooperation between IDF troops, Israel Securities Authority (ISA), and Israeli Police resulted in the killing of the terrorists who carried out the shooting attacks in the Barkan industrial area and the Ofra Junction.
"The battle against terror is an ongoing one, but the message to terror and terrorists is clear," he said, adding that efforts to maintain safety and sense of security in the West Bank and other regions continue at all times.
"In the past few days a Hamas terrorist group succeeded in striking us while exacting a heavy price…we will hunt them down… terrorists would not be able to hide in Judea and Samaria. In the wake of the attack, we are bolstering our troops, protecting roads and settlements, and expanding our efforts to prevent terror," added GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, who was also in attendence.