IDF manhunt for the Homesh terrorists intensifies amid heightened unrest

Israeli man injured by 65-year-old female terrorist in Hebron

 IDF soldiers are seen in the West Bank searching for the Palestinian gunmen behind the terrorist shooting in the Homesh settlement, on December 17, 2021. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF soldiers are seen in the West Bank searching for the Palestinian gunmen behind the terrorist shooting in the Homesh settlement, on December 17, 2021.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

The IDF intensified its manhunt over the weekend for the West Bank terrorists who killed Yehuda Dimentman, as tensions heightened between settlers and Palestinians on the ground.

“Over the weekend, IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Border Police forces continued to hunt down the terrorists,” the army said.

Soldiers focused specifically on areas around the Palestinian cities of Jenin and Nablus in the Samaria region of the West Bank, close to where gunmen sprayed Dimentman’s car with bullets on Thursday night, mortally wounding the 25-year-old.

The IDF believes that a terror cell was behind the Dimentman killing. If its members are not captured there is a concern it could carry out another attack.

On Friday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar and the commander of the Home Front Command about the search for the terror suspects.

 IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi visits the scene of the fatal terror attack which claimed the life of Yehuda Dimentman on Thursday, December 16, 2021. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE) IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi visits the scene of the fatal terror attack which claimed the life of Yehuda Dimentman on Thursday, December 16, 2021. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)

Gantz said that every measure must be taken in order to catch the terrorists. He also stressed the importance of maintaining an increased security presence in the area throughout the weekend in order to prevent any further attempts to harm those living there.

Kohavi visited the site of the attack, along with Bar, to assess the situation.

“The IDF and security forces continue to pursue the terrorists involved in the attack. Along with the intelligence effort, we will also increase the combat forces and we will continue to act and expand the operational activities as needed. We will not stop until we capture the terrorists.”

A number of unrelated and related violent incidents broke out in the West Bank over the weekend.

In an incident not believed to be related to the terror cell, a 65-year-old Palestinian woman stabbed a 38-year old settler near the Cave of the Patriarchs, lightly injuring him.

The injured man, a resident of the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement “fought with the terrorist until Border Police officers arrived at the scene and carried out an arrest procedure,” a Border Police spokesperson said.

According to the Palestine News Agency WAFA, violence broke out on Saturday between the IDF and Palestinian residents of the village of Burka, in which eight Palestinians were injured.

The IDF arrived at the village after Jewish extremists and/or settlers attempted to enter it to attack Palestinians, WAFA reported.

In a more highly reported incident Jewish extremists attacked the home of Wael Muqbel, 61, in the Qaryout village at around 3 a.m. on Friday.

Muqbel said that his wife Smeehah heard a knock at the door and woke him up, so he could investigate the situation.

“I went to the door and saw that they [the attackers] had broken the glass on the door. When I opened the door, I saw that one of them was dressed as a soldier,” Muqbel recalled.

“He said, ‘We are the army.’ They had someone with them. I thought he was my son, who returns late from work.

“I opened the door because I thought they were the army. As soon as I opened the door, they dragged me outside of the house,” Muqbel said.

It is at this point that they beat him, Muqbel said.

“I was injured in the eye and other parts of my face, as well as four broken ribs. They wanted to kill me. I lost consciousness,” Muqbel said.

The attackers also ransacked the house while Smeehah hid in the bedroom.

“They smashed everything inside the house. They damaged my car. They also damaged my tractor. They damaged our new kitchen. They also damaged the balcony at my brother’s home,” Muqbel said.

He has since been hospitalized in Nablus, where he was treated for four broken ribs and injuries to his eyes and face.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said he was “alarmed by the escalating violence” that included both the Palestinian killing of Dimentman and “several retaliatory attacks by Israeli settlers.”

“I condemn all acts of violence and terrorism and appeal to all sides to de-escalate the situation,” Wennesland said.

The terror attack against Dimentman took place just outside the site of the former settlement of Homesh, which the IDF destroyed in 2005 after the Gaza withdrawal. In an attempt to maintain Israel’s hold on the hilltop, settlers illegally built a modular yeshiva at the site which has been in operation for 16-years.

Dimentman was a student at the yeshiva. He left there on Thursday night in a vehicle that included three students, two of whom were lightly wounded and one, the driver who was unscathed.

“We were leaving Homesh. When we came to the left turn at the exit, we suddenly heard bursts of gunfire,” recalled Aviah Entman, a survivor of the attack.

“The gunfire was from a man, who apparently, stood very close to the road, simply waited for us and shot at us,” Entman explained.

“I felt a strong blow in my left hand. I immediately told the driver to go fast,” Entman told reporters at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where he and the other lightly wounded victim were treated.

He recalled the harrowing ride to escape the terrorist, as their vehicle raced on busted tires without air to the nearby Shavei Shomron settlement, which had been their original destination.

Dimentman shouted from the back seat that he was hit in the throat, recalled Entman.

“The driver increased his speed. We drove as fast as we could. On the way we communicated as much as we could with security forces,” Entman said. He wore a hospital gown and sat in a wheelchair as he spoke.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price spoke out against the attack.

“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack... that killed an Israeli citizen and wounded two others. Our thoughts are with the victims of this attack and their families.”

The British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan tweeted. “I condemn the murder of an Israeli citizen in the West Bank yesterday, and hope those wounded recover swiftly. We stand clearly against terrorist attacks.”