Jerusalem Post 03/17/2019 – By ANNA AHRONHEIM
Magen David Adom said they were treating a critically-injured person at the Ariel Junction
At least one Israeli was killed and two others were injured in two attacks outside of Ariel on Sunday morning.
According to IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, at around 9:45 a.m., a Palestinian terrorist attacked a soldier at the Ariel junction and stole his weapon before he shot toward civilians at the junction, hitting three cars passing through.
One civilian, Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, inside one of the cars was struck by the gunfire and reported to be in critical condition. He is the father of 12 and heads Oz and Emunah Yehsiva in Tel Aviv, according to the IDF.
“We understand he stole the third car before he fled the scene,” Manelis said, adding that the terrorist then continued toward the Gitai Avishar junction, where he carried out a drive-by shooting, injuring another soldier.
“I happened to be passing by the Ariel junction with the car I use to teach driving lessons, when I happened upon the large amount commotion at the Ariel junction,” MDA EMT Hananel Hess said. “I saw soldiers running and heard gunshots. I understood that this was out of the ordinary and I requested that MDA teams respond. Once the shooting stopped, I exited my vehicle and I saw an approximately 20-year-old patient lying unconscious on the ground with gunshot wounds to his upper body. We assessed him and found him to be in critical condition.”
The injured were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital for medical treatment.
An eyewitness told the media: “We suddenly saw a passing vehicle, it hit one of the soldiers, we saw it fall suddenly, we took cover behind the concrete blocks, and a lot of soldiers came to try to find out what happened here. I was wondering if I would go back to work, I think there were two soldiers here, I do not remember what the terrorists looked like.”
The Gitai Avishar junction on Highway 5 is a central intersection of the highway which links Ariel to central Israel, with hundreds of Palestinian workers traveling through it daily.
The IDF has set up checkpoints and has begun checking vehicles in the area and a large number of troops, including special forces, are taking part in the search for the attacker.
Authorities have also ordered nearby Israeli communities to shut their entrances until the attacker is apprehended. The gate to the Barkan industrial zone was also ordered to be closed.
“There was a report of a shooting at the Ariel junction in the area of the Ephraim Regional Brigade. The details are under examination,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement, later adding that following the initial investigations that two separate attacks had taken place.
“The pursuit of the terrorists is ongoing.”
Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council said following the attack that the residents are relying on the IDF to find the attackers and kill them.
“We are strengthening the heroes of the IDF and relying on the defense establishment and the IDF to reach these despicable terrorists and kill them. We will never break and we will never retreat. Settlement in Samaria is part of the people of Israel and part of the State of Israel. All the residents of Shomron, together with all the citizens of the State of Israel, support the IDF and reinforce our heroic soldiers.”
The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group welcomed attack, but didn’t claim responsibility, saying that the attack in Ariel “was carried out in order to move the compass and bring the struggle to its natural location.We welcome the attack and salute the rebel heroes in the West Bank.”
Several months ago former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot warned that there was a high probability of escalation in the West Bank and in November Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman echoed Eisenkot’s warning, saying that the relative calm in the area was “deceptive” as “Hamas is trying very hard to carry out terror attacks in and from Judea and Samaria.”
In Argaman’s November briefing to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, he said that security forces have thwarted 480 terror attacks in the West Bank, including 219 attacks planned by Hamas cells and 590 planned by lone wolves.
According to data released by the Shin Bet there has been a steady increase of attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem over the last several months. In October there was a total of 109 attacks, 116 in November, 138 in December and 138 in January 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are in pursuit of the terrorists at two points in the Ariel area. I offer my support to the soldiers of the IDF, the ISA and the security forces who are pursuing the terrorists. I am certain that they will apprehend them and we will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law as we have done in all of the recent incidents.”
Tovah Lazaroff and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.