Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to capture the murderers of 19-year-old soldier Dvir Sorek who was stabbed to death in a brutal terror attack in the West Bank during the early hours of Thursday.
Israel Defence Forces, Shin Bet security services and police are conducting a large-scale manhunt after the yeshiva student’s body was discovered near Midgdal Oz in Gush Etzion where he studied. The army believe Sorek, who was not in uniform and unarmed, was abducted but not murdered where his body was found.
IDF forces have been increased in the West Bank following the murder.
Tragically, the teenagers’ grandfather, Rabbi Binyamin Herling, a Holocaust survivor, was murdered in another terror attack near Nablus 19 years ago in October 2000.
Herling, who had eight children, died when Fatah members fired at 30 Israeli hikers near Mount Ebal. Four other Israelis were wounded in the attack.
His grandson lived in the settlement of Ofra and was a student at Mahanayim Hesder yeshiva.
The son of Rachel and Yoav Sorek, editor of right-wing publication Hashiloach, Dvir had recently enlisted for a Torah studies-military service program but had yet to serve his nation.
He was reported missing by family members after sending a message that he was returning to the yeshiva from Jerusalem late Wednesday.
Israeli leaders have condemned the attack.
Netanyahu, who received updates at the Defense Ministry’s headquarters in Tel Aviv yesterday, led condolences to the family and pledged to find those responsible.
“We fight terrorism without compromise to ensure the security of our people,” said President Reuven Rivlin.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz noted security forces would get their hands on “these contemptible killers, dead or alive.”
His leadership partner, Yair Lapid, said the murder was “shocking and painful”.
Education Minister Rafi Peretz of United Right Party called on Israel to send a message to the perpetrators of a heinous crime, while Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Israel must install the rule of law over the West Bank.
“Our answer to this abominable attack must be decisive,” he said. “We must apply Israeli sovereignty over all settlements in the West Bank starting with the Gush Etzion bloc.”
There was criticism though from Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman who attacked Netanyahu’s government.
“Their capitulation to Hamas in Gaza is leading to terror attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” he said.
Following the attack, Mahanayim Hesder yeshiva head Rabbi Shlomo Vilk told Army radio it was hard to grasp his student had been killed.
“We are shocked. Where do we go now? Primarily in the next minute and the next hour?” he noted.
Vilk added, “One of our challenges is to be careful not to translate this murder into feelings of hatred, fear and isolation. We cannot let them drag us down and become like our enemy.”
IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Menalis earlier Thursday confirmed Sorek’s death.
“This was a serious terror attack,” he said.
“Relatives had been unable to contact him since late evening. We gathered forces, including trackers. Soldiers found the young man’s body near the entrance to Migdal Oz.”
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman told reporters Israel would respond.
“We are a steadfast settlement, having endured bereavement and heroism,” he said.
“We will not weaken as a nation or as an enterprise. Our bitter enemies will repeatedly try to hurt us, but our response is the response of the Gush Etzion fighters in the War of Independence, to be ever more determined.”
He added, “We send our condolences to the dear family who are in pain, and to the settlement where the hero studied. “To the Israeli government we say again, bring this war to an end in victory.”
Hamas welcomed the attack, as did Islamic Jihad who said the killing was “heroic and conveyed an important message.”
By David Saffer