Manhunt underway for terrorist who stabbed Jewish teen to death

The body of 19 year-old Dvir Sorek was found outside the gate of the settlement of Migdal Oz where he was studying

The site where the body of the slain Yeshiva student was found in Efrat  (photo credit: ARIEH SAVIR/ TPS)
The site where the body of the slain Yeshiva student was found in Efrat
(photo credit: ARIEH SAVIR/ TPS)
IDF troops scoured the West Bank on Thursday for the killer of Dvir Sorek, 18, who was stabbed multiple times and whose body was found on the rocky brown ground a short distance away from the yellow security gate of the Migdal Oz settlement.
“This is a serious terror attack,” said IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, adding that many details of the murder are still under gag order by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). According to Manelis, while there are still many details that are unclear, “to the best of our knowledge he was alone.”
The victim was the grandson of Rabbi Binyamin Herling who was killed in a 2000 terror attack in the West Bank. He had not undergone any military training, was not in uniform and was unarmed at the time of his death.
Sorek was enrolled in the Hesder military program at the Orthodox Machanayim Yeshiva in Migdal Oz, where he would have simultaneously served in the IDF both as a soldier and a yeshiva student.
Earlier in the day, Sorek had been in Jerusalem, but told his friends that he planned to be back in school by about 8:30 p.m. He was last seen getting off the bus at around 8:00 p.m. and then started walking on the road towards Migdal Oz.
Friends and teachers became concerned when he did not arrive and did not respond to their text messages. It was only close to midnight when the military received a report that he had been missing since late evening.
Troops began to search the area and found his cellphone near the Neve Daniel settlement, on the other side of Route 60 from Migdal Oz in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank, a short distance away from the Israeli capital of Jerusalem and the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
His body was found at 3 a.m. by the gate near the road leading up to his school, which is located on the edge of Migdal Oz. The road is also within close view of the gate to the Efrat settlement.
According to reports, the initial investigation found that Sorek fought back against his attackers, who realized that they were only a hundred meters from the entrance to Migdal Oz. The cell then reportedly decided to kill him on the spot and dump his body before they fled in the direction of the Palestinian village of Beit Fajar.
Large numbers of personnel from the IDF, Israel Police and Shin Bet conducted searches throughout the Gush Etzion area outside of Jerusalem for the cell, closing off villages, including Beit Fajar, as they looked for the perpetrators.
Jawad Thawabteh, a Fatah activist in the Bethlehem area, said that Israeli soldiers have been operating in the village since early Thursday. “They are surrounding the village and have confiscated security cameras from some homes and shops,” he said. “They are also operating in other villages in the area.”
Ahmed Taqatqa, a resident of Beit Fajar, said he saw IDF soldiers confiscate security cameras from a local gas station. “They have set up checkpoints at the entrance to Beit Fajar and other nearby villages and are checking cars and asking for ID cards,” he said.
Ahmed Hassan, another resident, said soldiers raided his shop and demanded that he hand over the security cameras installed there. “They just took the cameras and left,” he said. They also raided several other businesses. There are dozens of soldiers on the outskirts of the village.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi visited the scene in the afternoon, along with Head of the Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nadav Padan and the commander of the Etzion Regional Brigade Brig.-Gen. David Shapiro, where they conducted a situational assessment.
During the day, the IDF had been investigating whether Sorek had been kidnapped and stabbed at another location, since there wasn’t a large amount of blood near where his body was found. It was thought that he may have been attacked while taking an off-road shortcut to his school up the hilltop, but by evening the scenario was dismissed by security officials.
The IDF posthumously promoted him from a private to the rank of corporal. He was buried in the Ofra cemetery at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, with hundreds in attendance.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman said that, “Gush Etzion woke up to a difficult morning in which innocent blood was spilled.” He noted that the killing took place during the month of Av, just days before Jews around the world mark the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem more than 2,600 years ago and again about 600 years later, with a day of fasting and mourning.
“History has shown that the Jewish presence in this land is not a passing phase, but an eternal fact,” Ne’eman said.
Binyamin Regional Council Head Israel Ganz said that the “unbearable ease” with which a terrorist can commit murder should “shock the entire State of Israel.” Ganz, in whose region Ofra is located, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to destroy the terrorist cell and ensure the safety and security of the residents of the West Bank.
The murder occurred not far away from the scene of the 2014 Gush Etzion kidnapping and murder of three teenagers: Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah.