IDF Seeks Answers: How Did the Terrorists Get to Yerushalayim?

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh walks at the scene of Wednesday's terror attack near the Damascus Gate on Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli Chief of Police Roni Alsheich at the scene of Wednesday’s terror attack near the Damascus Gate on Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli security officials were feverishly trying to determine how three terrorists made their way from the village of Kabatya, near Jenin in northern Shomron, to the Damascus Gate in Yerushalayim – armed with guns, bombs and knives – to carry out the terror attack that took the life of Border Police Officer Hadar Cohen, H”yd. After imposing a closure on Kabatya and other villages in the area Wednesday night, IDF troops entered the village and made several arrests, taking in family members and friends of the terrorists.

The funeral for Cohen was set for 2 p.m. Thursday at the military section of the Yehud cemetery.

Three Arab terrorists attacked Cohen and a second Border Police officer outside the Damascus Gate Wednesday afternoon, killing Cohen and seriously wounding the second, whose condition was “serious but stable,” doctors at Hadassah Har Hatzofim Hospital said Thursday morning. Two other Israelis were lightly wounded as one of the terrorists stabbed them with knives they had in their possession. Security officials opened fire and killed the three terrorists.

Security officials who were on patrol demanded that three people stop for a search after they aroused their suspicion near the Damascus Gate of the Old City. As they began checking their ID cards, one of the terrorists pulled out a rifle and began shooting, hitting two soldiers. Security personnel on the scene immediately opened fire and eliminated them. Police also found several explosive devices in the backpacks of the terrorists, they said in a statement. As such, a much greater attack was prevented, they said.

Police closed off the area around the Damascus Gate out of fear that the terrorists had planted explosives in the area. After a thorough search, the area was reopened.

Israeli security officials were looking at the attack Wednesday afternoon as a definite ramping up of the security situation, Channel One reported Wednesday night. Quoting senior officials in the defense establishment, the report said that the IDF planned to be much more vigilant in the coming days, as the “individual intifada” of teenagers brandishing knives that has characterized the terror attacks Israel has been experiencing in the most recent terror wave is now taking on characteristics of organized terror attacks.

“There is no way the terrorists could have pulled this off without a lot of assistance,” Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich told Channel One. “We need to determine where they picked up the weapons, how they got through the checkpoints, and who sheltered them as they made their way to the site of the attack.”

The terrorists have still not been named by Israel, but their identity is well-known in the Palestinian Authority, where social media has celebrated them as “heroes” for succeeding in not only carrying out the attack, but also in sneaking past Israeli security with weapons and bombs. Providing aid and comfort for the families of the terrorists was PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, who on Wednesday night visited the families of the terrorists, calling them “martyrs” and promising to assist in any way possible. He also promised to do everything possible to retrieve the bodies of the terrorists from Israel, and hold a funeral “celebrating” their achievement.

IDF troops overnight Wednesday arrested 16 other wanted security suspects. The suspects were wanted on charges of rioting, and endangering lives by throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli civilians and IDF troops. One of the suspects had an M-16 rifle in his possession. All were being questioned by security officials.