Two Israelis were killed and third moderately injured during a shooting attack at the Barkan Industrial Park early Sunday morning, in Samaria approximately 16 miles east of Tel Aviv, and just outside the Jewish city of Ariel. The Israel Defense Forces are conducting a manhunt for the perpetrator, believed to be a Palestinian in his early 20s from the West Bank village of Shuweika, near the larger city of Tulkarm.
A young man and a woman both were found unconscious when United Hatzalah and Magen David Adom emergency medical services arrived on the scene and were pronounced dead shortly after. The victims have been identified as Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, a 29-year-old mother of an infant, from Rosh Ha’ayin; and Ziv Hajbi, a 35-year-old father of three, from Rishon Letzion.
The third victim, a woman in her 50s, was evacuated to Petach Tikvah’s Belinson Hospital in moderate condition. She told paramedics that she heard a loud noise and went to investigate, and was subsequently shot in the stomach with a homemade machine gun before managing to take cover beneath a desk.
“The suspect arrived at the industrial park and opened fire on three civilians,” said the Israel Defense Forces in a statement. “Large numbers of IDF and Shin Bet security service forces have launched a manhunt for the suspect, whose identity is known to security forces. Additionally, large numbers of troops have spread out throughout the area to conduct searches and checks.”
The perpetrator is reported to have been an employee at the Alon Group, a waste-management business operating at the park that employs both Israelis and Palestinians. The assailant arrived at the industrial center and proceeded to shoot his managers before fleeing the scene. Conflicting reports indicate the attacker may have sought revenge for being fired, while the IDF stated that the man had not been dismissed, but rather failed to arrive at work the previous day.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident, “a very severe terrorist attack in which two Israelis were brutally murdered and a citizen was also wounded.”
Netanyahu added that “security forces are in pursuit of the reprehensible murderer. I am certain that they will apprehend him and I am also certain that we will deal with him to the fullest extent of the law and quickly.
“On behalf of myself and all government ministers I would like to send condolences to the families of the two people who were murdered and our hopes and prayers for a swift recovery for the woman who was wounded,” said Netanyahu.
President Reuven Rivlin also expressed his concern, stating, “I am shocked and saddened by this morning’s terrible terrorist attack at the Barkan industrial area. Our hearts are with the families of those who were killed, and our prayers are with those who are injured. This was not only an attack on innocent people going about their daily lives; it was also an attack on the possibility of Israelis and Palestinians co-existing peacefully. I call on the Palestinian leadership to condemn this murderous attack and to use the forces at their disposal to capture the terrorist and those who aided him.
The Barkan Industrial Park employs approximately 8,000 employees at 165 factories, of which about 60 percent are Palestinians, according to Moshe Levran, export manager at Twitto Plus, a company specializing in air-conditioning accessories whose factory is located next to the scene of the attack.
“I have almost every week delegations from all over the world coming to see with their own eyes the mutual and combined economic activities between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” said Levran. “I call it the Island of Peace. If you see every morning 12,000 workers from [Palestinian villages] coming to work happily and with a big smile, and they are like our brothers and we are like a big family. Once a year, everybody shuts their factory, and we make a Sunday with a barbecue just to give a good feeling … even the second generation of the Palestinians are coming to work because they feel so secure, and they have a good salary … we give them hope.”
In 2015, a Palestinian attacker was shot and killed while attempting to stab two security guards at the industrial park.
Originally posted at Jewish News Syndicate.