arresting one of the terrorists
arresting one of the terroristsIDF Spokesperson

Lieutenant Commander S., Commander of the IDF counter-terrorism unit, was on the move with his team as soon as the body of Dvir Sorek was found in Gush Etzion Thursday morning.

S. and his team are "terrorist hunters." They tracked down and eliminated the terrorist who murdered two civilians in a shooting attack at the Barkan Industrial Zone last year, captured the terrorist who carried out attacks at the Assaf and Ofra junctions, and captured the terrorist who stabbed IDF soldier Ron Kokia to death in 2017.

"I can't get Dvir's picture out of my head," the unit commander said in an interview with Yediot Aharonot Sunday morning. "From the moment the body was found I read about him. I wanted to know him. He was an amazing boy until the last moment before his murder."

"[This happened when] he went to buy books for his teachers. The things they said about him touched my heart. It was important to me to know him. When I realized the details of the incident, I knew how much they were taking advantage of the fact that he was alone, an innocent and helpless young man, when they took him by surprise, carried out their plan and fled.

S., 40, a married father of three, lives in the south of the country. "We were all in training, and we were only going to be on alert the next day. But this incident happened quickly. We reached our sector and waited for the exact intelligence of the terrorists. The news came around 3 AM. The identity of the operatives was already known to us."

Around 2:00 AM Saturday morning, the soldiers began to close in on the killers. "There are two destinations, each of which houses a different terrorist. The houses are in the same neighborhood, about 80 meters from each other. I command the entire operation and one specific destination, and the other destination is under the command of my deputy. A moment earlier we receive information from the Shin Bet forces with us that the terrorist and another person are sleeping on the roof."

"It's relatively common on summer days for Palestinians to sleep on the roofs because it can be very warm inside. We immediately changed the plan. We entered quietly and ascended the stairs. We reached the doorway and sent a dog to locate the sleeping men. They opened their eyes and saw the dogs, myself, and the other soldiers. They were in total panic with fear in their eyes. They didn't think we could find them.

"We started questioning them," he said. "They lied about their names. But very quickly they admitted [who they were]. At the same time, there was a problem at the second site: the terrorist was not there. The force had to move to a nearby house where the terrorist's family tried to delay [their entry]. A physical confrontation developed. The force came in and found the terrorist right in front of their eyes. Bingo."

He said that the force is filled with a sense of mission every time they hunt a terrorist. "Even after 20 years, the adrenaline still kicks in. Because you don't know what to expect. I can say that every time I looked the killers in the eyes, they showed fear. Every time they don't believe that we will come for them."