Ariel Junction after a reported terror attack, March 17th, 2019.
(photo credit: RAFI AVITAL/TPS)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday reprimanded the battalion commander of the army unit that was manning the Ariel junction on March 17 when a terrorist opened fire and killed two people.
The investigation of the incident, overseen by Brig.-Gen. Avi Gil, found that the soldiers at the junction that day were not mentally or operationally prepared to carry out their duties, and that the commander did not have proper control of his unit.
Gil said the unit commander received a formal citation and the division commander was discharged from service. Gil will also examine if any changes should be made to the commander’s reserve duty responsibilities.
Furthermore, some of the soldiers who did not perform as expected during the incident were removed from combat status.
Kochavi, however, praised the operational and intelligence team that helped pursue and catch the terrorist, noting the superb cooperation between the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the IDF and the police Counterterrorism Unit. Special technology was used to locate and identify him.
On March 17, the terrorist, Omar Abu Lila, staged an attack at the Ariel junction. He killed 19-year-old Gal Keidan, a soldier guarding the junction, and then stole his gun. He then shot at three vehicles there, including one that belonged to Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, 47, sending three bullets through the windshield.
Ettinger later succumbed to his wounds. He was the father of 12 and was the head of Yeshivat Oz V’emuna in south Tel Aviv.
Gil praised Keidan for trying to stop the terrorist.
The terrorist then stole a vehicle and drove to the nearby Gitai Avishar junction, where he shot and seriously wounded another Israeli.
Two days later, the IDF caught Lila and killed him in an exchange of gunfire in the Palestinian village of Abwain, near Ramallah.