Israeli security forces early Sunday arrested the Palestinian Arabs suspected of killing Yehuda Dimentman and wounding two other Jews in a shooting attack last Thursday.
Six men – two of them the suspected killers and four accomplices – were tracked down in a sweeping manhunt guided by an intensified intelligence gathering operation that homed in on a town in northern Samaria, just 20 minutes south of Megiddo.
The suspected shooters were identified by Israel as members of the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ). They ambushed and fired upon the three Jews as they left a yeshiva constructed amidst the ruins of Homesh, a Jewish village demolished by the Israeli government in 2005.
Arrest operation by the Israeli security forces
Dimentman’s killing triggered a number of events that included, within just hours, the erection of a small outpost near the site of the attack in the long-established Zionist response of, “Where they kill us, we will build”. The outpost was erected by a movement called Nachala (Hebrew for ‘inheritance’) of which the murdered 25-year-old father of a toddler had been a member.
A call went out from Jewish leaders in Judea and Samaria for Israelis who support the Jewish presence in their ancestral heartland to move to the new site, and at least one right wing politician paid a solidarity visit before Dimentman’s funeral Friday. But Israeli forces moved rapidly to dismantle the outpost that morning, reportedly at the behest of the leftist Meretz Party politician – Moshe Raz, a member of the Bennett coalition government.
Thursday’s attack occurred amidst growing resentment among certain sectors of Israeli society at the government’s focus on what it calls “settler violence” – a relatively tiny phenomenon – during an uptick in manifestations of ferocious Arab antisemitism. Yet another act of terrorism was perpetrated Saturday morning, when a 65-year-old Arab woman stabbed and lightly injured a Jew near Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs.
In statements following the Shabbat attack, Jewish community leaders in the town – the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – said that the government should respond immediately by granting approval for Jews to move into a house near the site. Instead, they wrote angrily, Jerusalem’s policy was “hostile and [in choosing to focus on ‘settler violence’ instead of Arab violence] sends a message of support to the terrorists.”
In Jerusalem, Saturday night, Jewish protestors gathering to demonstrate against the way the government is dealing with terrorism were confronted by police leading to clashes that saw at least 13 participants arrested.
Meanwhile, there were reports out of the Gaza Strip at the weekend that the so-called military wings of Hamas and the PIJ had met to elevate their coordination and increase their military strength.
Commanders of the two groups are said to have extolled the escalation of terrorism in Samaria and Judea “in response to settler terrorism,” and proclaimed their backing for the establishment of units in those areas that would act against “settlers.”