IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Monday said that he did not believe that the murders of two IDF soldiers in recent days was indicative of a new dangerous trend for the safety of soldiers or citizens in Judea and Samaria.
“These were two tragic events that occurred in the same time period, but we do not see them as part of a new trend,” Gantz said at an IDF event in honor of the Sukkot holiday.
On Friday, IDF solider Tomer Hazan was abducted and murdered in Samaria by terrorist Nadal Amar, whose motive was a plan to trade Hazan's body for the freedom of his brother, a Fatah terrorist who has been in jail in Israel for the last ten years, according to IDF sources. The soldier went missing Friday, and after a Shabak (General Security Services) investigation, soldiers descended on the home of Nadal in the village of Bayt Amin, near Kalkilye, and arrested him along with several others. The IDF later successfully recovered Hazan's body, which had been dumped in an underground well.
On Sunday, meanwhile, IDF soldier Gabriel (Gal) Kobi of Tirat Hacarmel was killed after an Arab sharpshooter targeted him while he was on patrol in Hevron. The attack took place in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood near the Machpelah Cave in the city, at about 6:30 PM. A Magen David Adom crew treated the victim, who was struck by bullets in his upper body. He was later taken by helicopter to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he died of his wounds.
Speaking at the event, Gantz said that the IDF had increased its presence in sensitive areas in Judea and Samaria in order to prevent terror activity. “I have no doubt that we will catch the perpetrators of all of these attacks, and ensure security and safety to the best of our ability.
“We are faced with terror on all fronts,” Gantz added. “This has not been an easy week for us. It is a reminder that even when everything appears calm and quiet, with the troubles of the region plaguing not Israel but our neighbors, the IDF, its soldiers and officers, need to deal with many crises on several fronts.”
Speaking Sunday night, a top Hamas terrorist said that PA Arabs were “on the verge of a third intifada.” Musa Abu Marzouk said that PA Arabs were planning more attacks against Israelis, similar to those of the past several days, in which two IDF soldiers were killed. Israeli security officials said that in recent days posters and fliers have appeared in PA cities calling for a “day of rage” on Friday, marking the 13th anniversary of the beginning of the second intifada.
Previous threats of a "third intifada" in the past few months have all failed to materialize, but Israeli security services will not be taking any chances, following the deadly attacks of the last few days.