Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai warned on Sunday that the terrorists who carried out last week’s deadly attack in Elad were like “wounded animals” that could attempt a final suicide mission as security forces continued to search for the suspects.
“It is important that we all remain vigilant,” Shabtai told dozens of officers involved in the manhunt in central Israel’s Kibbutz Nachshonim.
†[The suspects] have been without food and water for a long time, and they will probably do everything they can to carry out one last suicide attack and somehow end it for them, or they will try to survive and overcome a vulnerability in exploit us’ police chief added.
“They can constantly hear the helicopters and see the troops, and are in a defensive state.”
Security forces believe the two suspects have remained in Israel, with the manhunt centering on the Elad and West Bank area, as well as Arab communities.
Police have asked people to avoid those areas and not to pick up hitchhikers.
“Residents must be vigilant and report suspicious persons and act with due care. Avoid the seam area [between Israel and the West Bank] and open spaces. Don’t stop for hitchhikers or pick up people you don’t know,” Lieutenant General Shimon Nachmani, chief of the police department, told Ynet news site.
The police warnings came when Ynet reported that one of the two terrorists who carried out the deadly attack, which killed three Israelis, had left a will saying he did it “for the damage to the Temple Mount.”
The will has not been released publicly and the report did not specify which of the two suspects – As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, 19, and Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, 20 – it belonged to.
According to Ynet, two attackers captured alive last week have been kill a guard at the entrance to the Ariel settlement in the West Bank also cited tensions in Jerusalem as the motivation for their attack.
According to the report, defense officials are now increasingly concerned that tensions around the Temple Mount could lead to further regional violence.
The unnamed officials are also said to believe that while most of the attackers in recent weeks were not directly affiliated with Hamas, the terror group’s incitement over the holy site in Jerusalem was becoming increasingly effective.
While Hamas has not taken responsibility for most of the attacks since March 22 that have killed 19 people in Israel and the West Bank, Gaza Strip leader Yahya Sinwar has repeatedly called on Palestinians to attack Israelis and the group has publicly praised the perpetrators and encouraged more attacks.
The two men suspected of murdering three men during an ax and knife raid on Thursday in Elad may have been inspired by a speech by Sinwar urging Palestinians and Arab Israelis to carry out terror attacks, Haaretz daily reported. referring to an unnamed security source.
In the wake of the attack, Hamas called it “a heroic operation” in response to Jewish Israelis’ visit to the Temple Mount holy site earlier Thursday.
In a speech last week, Sinwar had threatened violent consequences if Israelis continued to visit the site, where the status quo says Jews can visit but not pray.
He also urged Palestinians to beat Israelis with everything they had — including axes. “Have anyone who has a gun prepare it. And if you don’t have a gun, get your cleaver or an ax or a knife ready,” Sinwar said.
Palestinians and Israeli forces have clashed repeatedly on the Temple Mount in recent weeks. The violence echoed scenes from last year when riots at the site in May sparked an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups led by Hamas.
Since last year’s war, Hamas, which aims to destroy Israel, has threatened to fire rockets at Israel if it violated the organization’s “red lines” in Jerusalem.
Hamas too threatened on Saturday to return to carrying out suicide bombings and “burning” Israeli cities like Jerusalem resumed its policy of targeted killings of high-ranking terror figures, including Sinwar.