'The sniper from Hevron' strikes again

Terrorist who shot female soldier Sunday likely the same elusive gunman who struck thrice previously, once fatally, leaving 'no traces.'

Ari Yashar ,

Security forces in Hevron after sniper shot dead Gal Kobi
Security forces in Hevron after sniper shot dead Gal Kobi
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The anonymous Arab terrorist who shot a female soldier outside the Cave of Machpelah in Hevron on Sunday is being hailed as "the sniper from Hevron" by Arab youths, and according to sources the elusive sniper has plagued the region for a long time.

In the shooting Sunday, the 19-year-old victim suffered moderate wounds after taking a bullet to the hip. 

The sniper is thought to be the same one who operates from the Abu Sneina neighborhood of the ancient city, who has struck in at least three attacks in recent years including one fatal shooting in which he murdered a soldier, reports Walla.

Similarly, the shooting just four hours later Sunday in the Har Hevron region of Judea that left an Israeli in his 20s moderately wounded is also suspected to be the work of a serial terrorist, who has been conducting several shootings in the region in recent months at a fixed range in south Har Hevron from an adjacent industrial area.

Sunday's sniper in Hevron has been praised on the Palestinian Arab social media, and despite intensive efforts the IDF and Israeli Security Agency (ISA) continue to struggle to locate the nefarious murderer.

One security source was quoted by the news site as saying that following the attack, the IDF and ISA are investing resources and thought to try and trap the shooter.

The source added "we are waiting for one mistake of his. In the meantime he isn't leaving any traces."

In September 2013 Givati Brigade staff sergeant Gal Kobi was killed by a bullet shot at him as he patrolled the Cave of Machpelah. Great efforts were made to find the source of the gunfire, but the shooter was never found.

The IDF has stated that the shooting was not necessarily the act of the Arab sniper, and there remain other possibilities such as a misfired cartridge that was accidentally discharged, but suspicions are high that it was the sniper.

Then in early November 2015 the sniper struck again, during the Shabbat when the Torah portion of "Chayei Sarah" is read, discussing the Biblical matriarch who is buried at the Cave of Machpelah along with the other patriarchs and matriarchs other than Rachel. Thousands flock to Hevron for the special Shabbat.

Precise gunfire broke out from the Abu Sneina neighborhood which overlooks the Jewish neighborhood in Hevron, hitting two Israeli civilians who were standing near the Cave of Machpelah. One was moderately wounded, and the other lightly wounded.

The IDF brought in large forces and conducted searches with aid from the ISA, but the shooter was not found.

In response to the wounding of the two civilians, Yehuda Brigade Commander Col. Yariv Ben-Ezra decided to issue a special order and take control of several buildings in Abu Sneina not far from "the sniper's house," a building from which an Arab terrorist shot dead the baby girl Shalhevet Pass in 2001. 

The buildings provide a clear view of the Cave of Machpelah. However, just several days after the attack the soldiers were withdrawn from the buildings.

In late November, an Israeli civilian who returned from early morning prayers in the Cave of Machpelah found that a bullet had struck his car. It was estimated that the bullet had been fired from the Abu Sneina neighborhood. Army sources appraised that the same elusive sniper was apparently responsible.