Army searches for Bat Ayin terrorist

Officer: IDF has "lead" on the man who murdered Shlomo Nativ, 13, and wounded a 7-year-old boy.

Shlomo Nativ bat ayin 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shlomo Nativ bat ayin 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The army has "a lead" in the search for the perpetrator of the deadly terror attack in Bat Ayin in which 13-year-old Shlomo Nativ was murdered and another boy, 7, was wounded, an IDF officer said Thursday. "We will do the utmost in order to find him and put him where he belongs," Lt.-Col. Guy Oshrey, the deputy commander of the Etzion Brigade, told Army Radio. "We have a lead and according to our assessment he will be apprehended soon." Extensive searches were being conducted in order to locate the axe-wielding terrorist who infiltrated the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin Thursday afternoon, killing Nativ and wounding 7-year-old Yair Gamliel. Roadblocks were set up throughout the area and security forces immediately launched an investigation to determine how he entered the community. The initial assumption, that the terrorist was an Arab laborer and had therefore not aroused suspicion, was refuted when it became clear that the settlement only employed Jewish laborers. According to reports, the attacker was dressed as a settler. Government spokesman Mark Regev condemned the attack as a "senseless act of brutality against innocents." Speaking by phone from the scene, Magen David Adom paramedic Ronen Bashri told The Jerusalem Post that ambulances and emergency response teams were called to the settlement after receiving a report of an axe attack. "We found a seven-year-old boy fully conscious with a head injury caused by a sharp object," Bashri said. "And we found a boy whom we had to declare dead on the scene." Nativ was buried in Kfar Etzion on early Thursday evening. Gamliel, who was rushed to hospital and admitted in moderate condition with a fractured skull, is the son of Ofer Gamliel, one of three men convicted in 2003 and sent to prison for 15 years for a failed bomb plot against an Arab girls' school in east Jerusalem. The Israeli Prisons Service (IPS) said it would allow Gamliel to visit his son's bedside at Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital on Thursday for a few hours. IPS Spokesman Yaron Zamir told the Post that the visit could only go ahead with an escort of IPS staff. "We are preparing to accompany Gamliel to the hospital," Zamir said. "He [Gamliel] is choosing the time of the visit." Magen David Adom chairman Eli Bin told the Post, "I can confirm that an axe caused the fatal head injury." He added that the injured boy was struck by a sharp object, possibly the same ax. "Both victims sustained head injuries," he said. The attack ended after one resident who saw the younger boy running from the terrorist stepped in and disarmed the man. IDF sources also said that the army was preparing for the possibility that Jewish settlers would avenge the attack by striking back at Arabs in the West Bank. Bat Ayin is home to religious settlers who have refused to build a security fence around their community, as is the rule in most other settlements, saying fences are a sign of insecurity. There was no word on whether the attacker acted alone. Less than an hour after the attack, the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. A murky terrorist group calling itself the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh also claimed responsibility for the attack in an e-mail sent to the Associated Press. For its part, Hamas called the attack a natural response to the "occupation." "This attack was committed in the framework of the resistance," Ayman Taha, a spokesperson for the group said. "This is a reaction to the continuing occupation and the continued building of settlements." "This is a natural reaction," he said, "especially against the backdrop of Israeli attacks. We are a people occupied, and it is our right to defend ourselves and to act in every way and with every means at our disposal in order to defend ourselves." Following the attack, Magen David Adom went on its highest level of alert across the West Bank. AP contributed to this report