Abed al-Karim Adel Asi, the Israeli Arab terrorist who murdered Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal outside the settlement of Ariel, was captured by security forces in Nablus along with several other suspects, the Shin Bet announced on Sunday.
Asi was arrested after a six-week-long manhunt by the Shin Bet, Israel Police Counterterrorism Unit officers and IDF troops from the Samaria Territorial Brigade.
“It was the culmination of extensive efforts since the terrorist attack, during which a number of accomplices, who are suspected of either helping [Asi] or knowing his whereabouts, were interrogated,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Following Asi’s arrest, the IDF Spokespersons Unit said, “The IDF and the security forces will continue working to protect the security of the residents and will work to thwart terrorist attacks against the citizens of Israel.”
Asi, a 19-year-old Israeli Arab resident of Jaffa, stabbed 29-year-old Ben-Gal while he was waiting at a bus stop near the entrance to the settlement of Ariel early last month. Ben-Gal was heading to his nephew’s brit mila (circumcision).
After he was stabbed, Ben-Gal ran to a nearby stopped bus, knocking on the door before collapsing. An off-duty IDF officer, who witnessed the attack and saw Asi giving chase, hit him with his car. Despite being hit, Asi was able to escape from the scene with the help of an unidentified accomplice waiting in a vehicle nearby.
Asi was reported by Hebrew media to have had scouted the scene of the attack the previous day, taunting troops who were providing security for a nearby bus station. Due to his suspicious behavior, troops distanced him from civilians as they questioned him. After they ascertained that he was Israeli and released him, Asi swore at them saying: “I’ll remember your faces, you whores!”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the troops who captured Asi. “We’ve come full circle,” he said. “Let every murderous terrorist know we will get to him and settle the score with him.”
Ben-Gal was buried in February in Har Bracha, the settlement in which he lived with his wife and four children.
On Sunday, his wife, Miriam, was quoted by Ynet news as saying that Asi’s capture won’t deter other Palestinians from carrying out attacks and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve the construction of 800 housing units in the settlement.
“Truthfully, I don’t feel anything. It won’t bring [Itamar] back home. And it won’t prevent another terrorist from rising and murdering again and destroying another family.”
On Saturday, two IDF soldiers – Capt. Ziv Daus, 21, of Azur and Sgt. Netanel Kahalani, 20, of Elyakim – were killed in the northern West Bank in a car-ramming attack that left another two soldiers injured, one seriously.
According to the IDF Spokespersons Unit, units from the Menashe Brigade continued to operate in the Barta’a area, home to the terrorist who carried out the attack, searching for illegal weapons and finding a makeshift air gun and several other gun parts.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, troops from the Etzion Territorial Brigade seized thousands of shekels of terrorism funds in the village of Beit Sahur. Eight Palestinians were also arrested by security forces, suspected of involvement in terrorist activity and violent rioting against Israeli citizens and security forces.
“IDF will continue to act to prevent terrorism and to protect the security of the residents of the State of Israel,” the army said in a statement.