IDF captures terrorist behind Tapuah Junction shooting attack

The attacker was identified as Muntasir Shalabi, 44, from the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya, located 22 kilometers north of Ramallah.

IDF soldiers patrol in the West Bank (photo credit: IDF)
IDF soldiers patrol in the West Bank
(photo credit: IDF)
Israeli security forces have apprehended the Palestinian who carried out a drive-by shooting at the Tapuah junction in the West Bank that left one Israeli teenager dead and two injured.
The attacker, 44-year-old Muntasir Shalabi from the town of Turmus Aiya some 22 km. north of Ramallah, was arrested in the town of Silwad shortly after 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta succumbed to his injuries at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus.
“Following intensive intelligence and operational activities by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the IDF and the Israel Police, the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack at the Tapuah junction – where the late Yehuda Guetta was killed and two other Israeli civilians were injured – was arrested and detained,” the Shin Bet said in a statement, adding that forces “raided a building where the wanted man was hiding in the village of Silwad.”
He was detained for questioning by the Shin Bet.
“Security forces will continue to act resolutely against anyone who carries out a terrorist attack and against those who assist him,” the agency added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police “for their quick and determined actions” in apprehending Shalabi. “Israel’s long arm will reach anyone who seeks to harm our citizens,” the statement said.
Security camera footage of the attack showed an SUV driving up to the bus stop, slowing down and braking before someone inside opens fire. The video shows people at the scene ducking for cover, as the car then speeds off as troops run to the scene.
Three Givati soldiers fired seven bullets, striking the car and Shalabi, who was injured.
The funeral of Yehuda Guetta took place at 11 a.m. on Thursday morning at the Heichal Ya’acov synagogue in Kiryat Moshe. He died late Wednesday night.
A resident of Jerusalem, Guetta had been a student in the Itamar Yeshiva. He is survived by his parents, four brothers and two sisters.
“Yehuda, in the last few days, we worried as you fought for your life, we prayed from the depths of our hearts that you would overcome your wounds, and across the entire country we begged for your recovery, but this morning, to our great sorrow, these prayers have turned to a eulogy,” said Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.
“Our hearts are broken, but our spirits are strong,” said Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, calling upon the government to establish a settlement near Tapuah junction in Guetta’s memory.
Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew convicted of spying for Israel, and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef also addressed the crowd.
In an interview with Israeli media, his mother recalled the attack and her last moments with her son: “My sister called me and told me to check if Yehuda was alright because there was an attack at Tapuah junction... I didn’t think it was him. I called and he didn’t answer. I called Beilinson’s emergency room and they said he was there and I should come. We were fortunate to part with him properly, and that he stayed with us a few more days.”
“I send sincere condolences to Yehuda Guetta’s family,” Netanyahu said within minutes of hearing of the young man’s death. “These are difficult moments for the Guetta family and the entire nation of Israel shares in your sorrow.”
“My heart goes out to the Guetta family who lost Yehuda tonight, only 19 years old, who was shot during the heinous terrorist attack at the Tapuah junction,” read a statement by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
“I’m sending a courageous hug, strength, and prayers to comfort the family of Yehuda Guetta, who was murdered in a shooting at Tapuah junction,” said President Reuven Rivlin, passing on his condolences to the family as well. “How much pain and sorrow that he was taken like this... We will not stand aside while cruel terror rears its head, and we will fight all the way, with perseverance and determination.”
His friend at the Yeshiva, Nechemia Lotkin, described Guetta as a “quiet and gentle” individual who told many jokes. “We are still in shock, it’s taking a lot of time to digest,” Lotkin told Army Radio.
A second victim, 19-year-old Benaya Peretz of Beit She’an, remains in very serious condition with a back wound. The third victim, 19-year-old Amichai Hala from Safed, was lightly wounded in the attack and was discharged from the hospital.
Though media reports had said that Shalabi was a known Hamas supporter, the Shin Bet said that he was not affiliated with any terror group. According to a report on Walla News, Shalabi was radicalized in the United States where he lived for several years and began to support Hamas. Nevertheless, it is believed he acted alone and without the support of the Gaza-based terror group.
In the four days since the attack, security forces had been focusing their manhunt in the Nablus area and had closed off the village of Akraba where the car used in the attack was located. Dozens of Palestinians, many of them family members, were detained on suspicion that they had provided shelter or support to Shalabi while he was on the run.
The IDF sent reinforcements to the West Bank to take part in the search, and out of concern that copy-cat attacks or other violence could increase.
The attack on Sunday led to several retaliatory attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their land, as well as clashes between Palestinians and IDF forces.
A 16-year-old Palestinian was killed overnight on Wednesday in clashes with IDF troops in the village of Odala, south of Nablus, after being hit in the shoulder by live bullets. Identified by Palestinian media as Yusef Muhammed Odeh, he was taken to the hospital in the town of Beita, where he died of his wounds. Another teenager, Munther Muhammed Abdel-Rahim, was also wounded in the same clash after being struck in the back.
Residents of Beita and the nearby village of Odala say there have been clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops near the entrances to the villages over the past several nights.