The lone attacker was identified as 18-year-old Muhammed Soof who worked as a cleaner in the Ariel industrial zone.
Three Israelis were killed and four others injured in a terror rampage in the West Bank city of Ariel on Tuesday.
According to the military, two civilians were killed at the “Ten” gas station in Ariel and another man was killed after he suffered multi-system injuries after being rammed in an intentional car crash near the West Bank city.
The victims were identified as 50-year-old Tamir Avihai, a father of six from the settlement of Kiryat Netafim; 36-year-old Michael Ledigin, a father of two who moved to Israel with his family five years ago and lived in Bat Yam; and 59-year-old Mordechai Ashkenazi, also from Bat Yam.
The attacks began at around 9:28 in the morning when an 18-year-old terrorist, identified as Muhammad Murad Sami Souf from the nearby village of Hares – who had a work permit to work as a cleaner in the Ariel Industrial zone – came to the entrance to the gate with a knife in his hand.
He stabbed one of two civilian security guards, moderately wounding him in the neck. The second guard fired shots in the air as the terrorist ran some 60-70 meters toward the gas station where he stabbed five civilians, killing two of them.
Souf then stole a car, drove onto Route 5 and crashed into another car, seriously wounding Avihai. The car he stole was destroyed in the crash; a civilian who witnessed it exited his BMW to help the wounded Israeli, allowing the terrorist to steal his car and flee the scene. Avihai, who had suffered from multi-system injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene. With the stolen BMW, he continued toward the Shomron Crossing checkpoint on Route 5, making a U-turn when he got to the checkpoint, driving against traffic and heading back to the scene of the crash. Souf then got out of the vehicle and tried to escape by foot. At this point, he was shot and killed by civilians: a soldier on furlough and an on-duty IDF soldier. The off-duty soldier said that he had been heading to a memorial for Shalom Sofer, who was killed in a terror attack last month, when he saw this terror attack.
“This morning while I was driving on Route 5, I noticed an unusual incident on the road. When I realized it was a terror attack, I got out of the car, identified the terrorist, and opened fire at him,” the soldier said in a video published by the IDF. A senior IDF officer told reporters that the whole event took about 20 minutes, and raised questions about the conduct of the security guard who shot in the air instead of at the terrorist. “This event could have ended in the industrial area,” he said, adding that “there was a single terrorist who succeeded – with quite a bit of audacity.” While it is believed that the terrorist acted alone, the officer said that security forces are checking to see if the individual who brought him to the Ariel Industrial Zone gate knew of his intentions or if he just drove him to work like any other day.
The three critically injured civilians were transported to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva where they remain in serious but stable condition.
Following the attack, IDF troops raided the terrorist’s village and home, arresting several members of his family. Defense Minister Benny Gantz also held a situational assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi and Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid sent his condolences to the families of the victims.
“We are fighting terror relentlessly and with the full capacity of the IDF, the Shin Bet and all security branches,” he said. “We have managed to dismantle [Palestinian] infrastructure and various organizations, but this is a war we must handle every day.”