In Brief: Arrests as Hamas welcomes Independence Day terror attack

Hamas flag > Guilherme Paula, Oren neu dag, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Two terrorists who murdered three people in Elad on Israel’s Independence Day were arrested by police on Sunday. The suspects, who come from the West Bank village of Rummanah in the Jenin area and have no record of security offences, were captured in woodland just outside Elad. As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, 19, and Subhi Emad Sbeihat, 20, carried out the knife and axe attack in a city park on Thursday evening as Independence Day celebrations were drawing to a close.

Nineteen people have been murdered in six deadly attacks carried out over the last two months.

The three victims were Boaz Gol, a 49-year-old resident of the city and father of five; Yonatan Havakuk, a 44-year-old resident of city and father of five; and Oren Ben Yitfah, a 35-year-old resident of Lod and father of six.

The attack was condemned by both Israeli politicians and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas welcomed the attack, suggesting it was a response to continuing disturbances at the Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem. Last week, Palestinians clashed with police at the site after it was reopened to non-Muslims for the first time since 22 April. Israel traditionally further restricts access to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Hamas had threatened violence if Israel allowed Jews to resume visiting the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Last Saturday, the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, urged Palestinians to attack Israelis. “Let everyone who has a rifle, ready it. And if you don’t have a rifle, ready your cleaver or an axe, or a knife,” Sinwar said.

Speaking at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Naftali Bennett warned that “capturing the murderers is not enough”. “We are at the start of a new stage in the war on terrorism. Those who incite cannot rest easy,” the prime minister said. “Those who throw matches cannot run away.”
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