After a two-day manhunt, the Shin Bet and IDF Special Forces last night confirmed that they have killed Palestinian terrorist Omar Abu Leila. The 19-year-old had murdered an IDF soldier and an Israeli civilian at the Ariel Junction on Sunday. Staff Sergeant Gal Kedat, 19, and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger 47, were brutally murdered in the chilling terror attack that shook Israelis and Jews around the world.
According to Arab media, dozens of IDF Special Forces surrounded a home in the Arab Village of Abwein near Ramallah on Tuesday, where the suspect was reportedly hiding.
Ma’an News reported that the IDF had surrounded the building ordering the terrorist to surrender. After refusing orders, the power supply to the local area was disconnected. Israeli troops then opened fire on the building, while threatening to demolish the entire structure.
After an exchange of fire with the IDF, the terrorist, who originated from Az-Zawiya was shot and killed at the scene. No Israelis were injured in the operation.
According to the military, Sunday’s atrocity appears to have begun when Leila stabbed Kedat, who was guarding Ariel junction, stole his rifle and then shot him. The suspect then proceeded to fire at three passing vehicles, striking Rabbi Ettinger in the process. He then hijacked a car, before shooting Alexander Dvorsky at a nearby junction before fleeing to a nearby Palestinian village.
In the pursuit of Leila, who fled the scene with Kedat’s M-16 rifle, Israeli security forces had raided many Palestinian villages, and questioned 15 Palestinians suspected of terror activity. Defence forces also bolstered West Bank areas where soldiers are stationed, including the Ariel Junction. Concrete blocks have now been erected to safeguard the troops.
Doctors at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, were unable to save Rabbi Ettinger, a father of 12, who died from his injuries on Monday.
Hospital officials confirmed that 20-year-old Dvorsky from Nazareth is now out of danger.
The vehicle was found abandoned at Bruchin.
During the early stages of the manhunt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to catch those responsible at a weekly cabinet meeting.
“I offer my support to the soldiers of the IDF, the ISA and security forces who are pursuing the terrorists,” he said. “I am certain that they will apprehend them and we will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law as we have done in all of the recent incidents.”
Netanyahu announced Israel would begin building 840 housing units in Ariel on a visit to the town following the terror attack.
“These terrorists will not uproot us from here, the total opposite will happen,” he told reporters. “We will begin building a new neighbourhood as was approved two years ago.”
Netanyahu added, “The two people who were killed were wonderful people, I am told. The hearts of the entire people are with their families.”
Posthumously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant, Gal is survived by his parents and two brothers.
A talented musician, teachers at a music academy in Beersheva paid tribute to their former student who excelled at the mandocello and was devoted to music.
His family requested no media coverage at the funeral at a military cemetery in Beersheva on Monday.
Head of Oz and Emunah Yeshiva in the Neve Sha’anan neighbourhood of Tel Aviv for the past three years, Rabbi Ettinger is survived by his wife and children.
The Ettinger family thanked MDA and Beilinson Hospital for trying to save his life.
A statement said Rabbi Ettinger died at the hands of a lowly murderer when he revealed daring, mental strength and courage, while shooting at the despicable terrorist.
President Reuven Rivlin paid tribute after hearing the heart-breaking news of his death.
“I was able to get to the hospital to be with his family who were davening for his recovery,” he said. “I embraced them on behalf of all Israelis and was overwhelmed by their strength. “Rabbi Ettinger’s life’s work will continue and be amongst us even after his passing, the strength he gave his pupils and community he led will continue to strengthen us through the enormous grief and sorrow.”
Over a thousand mourners attended Rabbi Ettinger’s funeral at the Segula cemetery in Petah Tikva.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett told the rabbi’s children, who gave moving addresses during the service, that their father was a hero and they should be proud of him.
“In his death, he didn’t do what most people would have in that situation,” he told mourners. “He didn’t run away, but strove to confront the terrorist. He fired bullets at the murderer and paid for it with his life.”
He also called on his family not to let terrorism defeat them.
“This wonderful family here in Eli will wipe away their tears and carry on, because that is what we do here in Eli and in all of the Land of Israel,” he said. “We grow stronger, but this pervasive evil, which repeatedly cuts down the best of us, must be defeated.”
The family have decided to donate the rabbi’s organs to save other people’s lives.
Hamas welcomed the attack as a response to the Israeli occupation, events in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in a statement.
By Adam Moses