Terror Wave In Judea And Samaria Continues As Israel Heads To Elections

Right-Wing parties poised to retake Knesset as terror wave underscores the Left’s inability to clamp down on terrorism
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

A Hamas-affiliated terrorist opened fire with an M-16 rifle in the Givat Ha’avot neighborhood of Kiryat Arba near Hebron on Saturday night, killing one and wounding five. This is yet another terror incident in a wave of terror attacks in Judea and Samaria as Israel heads to elections to decide the 25th Knesset. 

While initial reports claimed that the shooting targeted the home of MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, an outspoken member of Israel’s right-wing bloc and chairman of the Otzma Yehudit party, the IDF later clarified that the terror attack did not target the lawmaker, despite being carried out near his home. 

The victim was identified as Ronen Hanania, a 49-year-old resident of the area. Hanania’s son Daniel, who was in the car with his father at the time of the attack and one of the wounded, told Channel 12 News: “We were shot at; my father was hit in the head and I watched him die. I knew there was no chance he’d survive.” After escaping the car, the younger Hanania was helped by several Arabs in a shop, who bandaged his hand and applied a homemade tourniquet to his wound before he was eventually evacuated to a nearby hospital.

Ofer Ohana, a Kiryat Arba community activist and paramedic, was shot and seriously injured as he responded to the scene. The Rescuers Without Borders organization issued a statement, saying, “We are all praying for the recovery of Ofer Ohana, a Rescuers Without Borders Judea and Samaria volunteer who was wounded in the attack near Kiryat Arba when he rushed to the scene to save a life.” Two Israelis and an Arab were also among the other victims, all of whom sustained minor injuries. 

The terrorist was rammed by an Israeli security officer responding to the attack before being shot dead by an off-duty Israeli military officer, as seen in security and dashcam footage. 

The terrorist, a teacher in Hebron, was reportedly terminally ill with cancer. Several members of the terrorist’s family are reportedly associated with Hamas, including his brother who was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal in 2011. Arabs in Hebron celebrated the terror attack by distributing sweets and by shooting off fireworks as seen on social media.

In a eulogy at the funeral on Sunday, Hanania’s son urged the Israeli government to do everything possible to prevent this from happening again. MK Ben-Gvir also eulogized his neighbor at the funeral, which was attended by Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi David Lau, Likud MK Amir Ohana, and Religious Zionism party chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich.

Former Prime Minister and Likud Party Chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement, saying, “I pray for the injured in the terror attack in Kiryat Arba, and I support the security forces who are acting on the ground. Only a strong hand will triumph over terror.”

Kiryat Arba/Hebron Council Chairman Eliyahu Liebman criticized current Defense Minister and National Unity Party head Benny Gantz for reopening the checkpoint that the terrorist used to enter the area. “Five months ago, the Defense Minister decided to open the Ashmoret checkpoint, which had been closed to Palestinian vehicle traffic for 20 years,” said Leibman. “We warned in real time that the opening of the checkpoint could lead to attacks, and unfortunately, as mentioned, this fear came true tonight.” 

Just a few hours afterward, shots were fired at Israeli troops from a passing vehicle near the Arab town of Bani Na’im, according to the IDF. The soldiers fired back at the terrorists, who fled by car.

In another incident that night, A 27-year-old Israeli man received a head injury when terrorists threw stones at his car near Ma’ale Amos in the Gush Etzion area of Judea. 

This afternoon, a terrorist ran over a civilian with his car at Nebi Mussa near Jericho and then continued to the Almog Junction and rammed into a bus stop running over and injuring 4 IDF soldiers. A policeman who was at the scene shot the terrorist.

On the previous Thursday evening, a family narrowly escaped a lynching attempt near the Mount of Olives in east Jerusalem. Their vehicle was attacked when returning from a memorial event by a group of Arabs wearing masks who broke their windows and smashed their mirrors and other parts of their car before the driver was able to escape. 

In response to the wave of terror, MK Ben-Gvir held a press conference on Sunday evening, stating that he would request the public security ministry during coalition talks following the upcoming election. Ben-Gvir outlined a five-point strategy for dealing with the rise in terrorism, which included arming reserve soldiers, relaxing open-fire rules to allow police officers and soldiers to use live fire on rioters throwing stones and petrol bombs, and passing legislation that will grant police officers and soldiers immunity from criminal prosecution for actions taken in response to terrorism.

As reported by The Daily Wire, the race is neck and neck, with some polls showing a right-wing block led by Likud’s Netanyahu just eking out a 61-seat majority over the center-left block led by current interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Whether the current terror wave will boost the right-wing bloc to regain power will become clear on Tuesday evening when the polls close.

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