Sorek’s body was found with multiple stab wounds in the early hours of Thursday on the side of a road near the seminary where he studied as part of a program which combines Torah studies with military service. He was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found. The two Palestinians suspected in Sorek's murder had been arrested overnight Friday after an extensive manhunt.
S. is a commander of a battalion in Israel's Special Central Unit (Yamam) – an elite police counter-terrorism unit also charged with SWAT missions - also known as “the terrorist hunters.”
In the past, his battalion captured the terrorist who killed two employees at a factory in the Barkan industrial zone on October 2018 and the Palestinian gunmen who killed two IDF soldiers at the Giv'at Asaf Junction in the West Bank on December 2018, among many other successful operations.
Once S. realized that Sorek was murdered, he immediately knew his battalion would capture the perpetrators, whether dead or alive.
"I can’t get the image of Dvir out of my mind," said the commander in an interview with Ynet’s sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth.
"From the moment the body was found, I made an attempt to learn more about him. I wanted to get to know him. I also saw what the writer David Grossman (who eulogized Sorek after it emerge that the youth died hugging one of Grossman’s books) said about him.”
“When I understood the details of the incident, I understood how much the suspects exploited the fact that he was alone. They attacked this innocent and helpless guy, carried out their plot and fled the scene,” he said.
The 40-year-old S. has been doing his job for the past 20 years. He’s a married father of three, who lives in southern Israel. Each time he and his team are sent on a mission, they don’t rest until the it has been completed.
"We were actually training at the time the incident happened and our teams were only supposed to be mission-ready the day after. But it happened so quickly that we were sent to the area of the incident and waited for the precise intelligence about the terrorists' whereabouts,” he said.
The manhunt for the suspects reached its peak around 2am on Saturday when the security forces began closing down on the two Palestinians. Each suspect needed to be apprehended separately at their respective homes located in the same neighborhood, some 80 meters apart.
“Moments before we were about to break into the houses with two different teams - headed by me and my deputy - we received information from the Shin Bet personnel who were with us that one of the terrorists is sleeping on the roof of his house. We immediately changed the plan,” said the commander.
“So, we quietly break the entrance door, go up the stairs and reach the opening of the rooftop. We send a dog up to the roof and immediately locate the suspect asleep with another person,” he said. “They open their eyes and they see me and several other fighters with trained dogs in front of them. They are in total shock, with fear in their eyes. They cannot believe we would get to them."
From the moment the suspects are captured, they need to be interrogated in order for their identity to be verified. “Initially they started lying but very quickly they went back on the lie,” said the commander.
The operation, however, wasn’t perfect as the second suspect wasn’t at his home at the time of the arrest. “We had to search the house nearby and the family living there tried to delay the forces, prompting a physical confrontation to develop,” said S. “The force pushed their way in and bingo! The terrorist was in front of them.”
S. and his team have captured suspects who committed grave crimes in the past and the sense of satisfaction when they complete a mission fulfils them every time. "Even after 20 years, the adrenaline is still there because you never know what to expect … Every time I look into the killers’ eyes, I see fear. They never believe that we’re coming, and we make sure to never leave the score unsettled.”