Perpetrators of two deadly West Bank terror attacks last week said to be brothers
ABBAS MOMANI (AFP)
Palestinian media reports, confirmed by the i24NEWS defense desk, on Thursday identified the perpetrators of two deadly shooting attacks in the central West Bank last week as brothers from the Palestinian village of Kobar, one of whom had served time in an Israeli prison and was released just months prior to carrying out the attack.
According to the reports, the fugitive perpetrator of a shooting attack that killed two Israeli soldiers near the Givat Assaf outpost last Thursday is the younger brother of the terrorist who just four days earlier committed another shooting attack at the nearby settlement of Ofra.
The attack in Ofra, which was claimed by Hamas, injured seven and killed a newborn baby delivered prematurely after its mother was shot and seriously injured.
Israeli troops shot dead the Ofra attacker, 29-year-old Salah Omar Barghouti, after a four-day manhunt. The Givat Assaf gunman, identified as 32-year-old Assem Barghouti, remains at large.
Palestinian media reports said that the elder Barghouti had served nearly a decade in an Israeli prison and was only released nine months ago.
The Givat Assaf shooting was thought to have been a copycat of the Ofra attack carried out by the younger Barghouti brother, whom Hamas later claimed as an affiliate of theirs.
Security forces are still investigating further links between the two attacks.
The two attacks sparked a wave of anger, particularly among Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, who demanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliver a harsher response to the uptick in violence and enact more effective deterrence mechanisms against terror.
It also sparked uptick in hate crimes against Palestinians perpetrated by settlers in the region with several instances of stone throwing, tire slashing, and so-called “price tag” vandalism reported throughout the West Bank.
Netanyahu, on a visit to the Givat Assaf outpost on Tuesday, vowed to strengthen settlements and “hit hard” against terrorism, warning that it was only a matter of time before the perpetrator of the attack there was found.
“As you’ve heard, the chase is underway...It’s only a question of time. We’ll find this murderer as we found the others. Palestinian terror thinks it will uproot us. It will not uproot us,” Netanyahu said, praising the settlers for their “resilience and strength”.
The father and uncle of the Barghouti brothers also carried past terror convictions.
The brothers’ father was identified as Omar Barghouti*, a senior Hamas member and perennial security prisoner who had spent a total of 28 non-consecutive years in prison after numerous arrests by Israel.
He was convicted in 1978 of murdering an Israeli soldier.
The brothers’ uncle Nael Barghouti, was convicted for the same crime and is reportedly the longest serving Palestinian prisoner. He was freed in 2011 in a controversial exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but was re-arrested in 2014 on charges of membership to Hamas and his life sentence was reinstated.
*Note: Omar Barghouti is also the name of an unrelated Palestinian co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement
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