The two terrorists who killed a security guard at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Ariel scoped out the location before the attack, and identified it as vulnerable, according to a Saturday report.
Vyacheslav Golev, 23, was gunned down inside a guard booth at the gate to the settlement. His fiancée of him, also a guard, was in the post during the attack. Golev used his body de ella to shield her from the hail of bullets, saving her life, according to military officials.
Counterterrorism forces arrested two Palestinians allegedly behind the attack on Saturday evening. Palestinian media named them as Sameeh Assi and Yahya Marei, both in their 20s.
On Sunday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said troops were operating in a number of Palestinian towns in the West Bank, including Qarawat Bani Hassan, the hometown of the two alleged terrorists.
Before the attack, the pair drove to the area, went to a high point overlooking the settlement entrance, and observed the community’s gate and its security, the Ynet news site reported.
The attackers, who were local, knew the area well and were already familiar with the entrance to the settlement.
They had identified the security post as a potential weak point, especially on Friday nights, when there was less security and traffic in the area was light, the report said.
After surveilling the guard post, they drove toward it and realized that no guards were outside the post. Usually, two guards were outside the settlement gate in two different spots.
The Kan public broadcaster said the attackers drove past the guard post twice before the attack to check the gate and see what the guards were doing.
The suspects first opened fire from inside their vehicle, hitting Golev, but noticed movement in the structure behind him, and realized a second person was inside.
They exited the vehicle and continued firing, aiming to hit the second guard, but did not manage to hit Golev’s fiancée, Victoria Fligelman, who was uninjured in the shooting.
After the attack, the suspected terrorists drove away for around 20 minutes, traveling a few kilometers, and arrived in an open area, where they torched the vehicle.
The car had an Israeli license plate belonging to another vehicle that had been taken off the road in 2019.
Security officials figured out the attackers’ identities within two hours of the shooting, the report said. Their homes, both in the same village, were put under surveillance.
On Saturday, special forces approached both houses at the same time. The arrest operation was conducted by the police Yamam unit, IDF troops and Shin Bet officers.
The Israeli troops fired toward the houses, and moments later, the two suspects emerged with their hands raised. Minutes after that, they revealed the location of the guns they used in the attack.
On Sunday morning the IDF released footage of the arrests.
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Israel has an advanced technological network in the West Bank, implemented in the wake of the kidnap and murder of three teenage boys in June 2014.
According to the Haaretz daily, this mass network of cameras and observation posts has been integrated into a highly advanced system capable of quickly gathering and analyzing huge amounts of information gathered from different sources, allowing security services to quickly identify suspects in the wake of an attack .
Friday’s attack at the entrance to Ariel was at a key point in that technological network, the report said, taking place at the entrance to a large settlement from a busy road.
The fact that the car had a license plate that was no longer in use should have been a red flag, the outlet said.
The initial investigation by the military has found that the two guards were taken totally by surprise at the start of the attack.
IDF spokesperson Ran Kohav said Sunday that the military would investigate the events surrounding the attack and whether Golev and Fligelman had followed protocol.
“We will conduct an investigation into the attack at the entrance to Ariel and we will examine what can be done to prevent such an incident from recurring,” Kohav told Army Radio.
“It’s too early to determine whether Slava, the checkpoint guard, acted as required and I prefer not to give scores — it ended in his murder,” Kohav said, using Golev’s nickname.
Security forces have determined that the attack was not directed by any terror group, but one of the shooters is affiliated with Hamas.
The attack was claimed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of armed groups affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party. The terror group was also behind the deadly attack in Bnei Brak last month.
Both of the suspects were barred from entering Israel, and one briefly served time in an Israeli prison at some point, Ynet reported. They are not related to each other.
The gunmen apparently used improvised Carlo submachine guns, according to an image published by police on Saturday.
Golev, a 23-year-old former student at Ariel University, is survived by his parents and seven siblings in Beit Shemesh, and his fiancée.
He will be buried in Beit Shemesh on Sunday.
Also overnight Friday-Saturday, Palestinians reported that a man was killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank village of Azzun, near Qalqilya, during clashes in the area.
The attack on Ariel came as tensions have risen sharply between Israel and the Palestinians in recent weeks against the backdrop of repeated terror attacks in Israeli cities that left 14 dead.
The escalation has come amid the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — often a period of high tension in Israel and the West Bank.
The army has stepped up its West Bank activities in an attempt to crack down on the spiraling violence. The ensuing raids sparked clashes that left at least 25 Palestinians dead, many of whom took part in the clashes, while others appeared to have been uninvolved civilians.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.