Two soldiers killed as terror attacks spike

Friends and family at the funeral of Yovel Moryosef. Photo: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

THREE Israeli families where in mourning this week, after a sharp spike in terror attacks in the West Bank.

A terror shooting last Thursday left two soldiers dead, and their families have been sitting shiva this week.

Meanwhile, the family of Amiad Israel Ish-Ran, a baby delivered after his mother was shot, is struggling with its loss.

At the funerals of the soldiers, mourners said they were cut off in their prime.

“You were so young and just next month you were supposed to celebrate your 21st birthday,” said Michal Bognim, girlfriend of Yovel Moryosef from Ashkelon, at his funeral. She called her boyfriend her “warrior”, and spoke of his killer as a “lowly murderous terrorist”.

The other soldier who died was Yosef Cohen of Beit Shemesh. He was 19 and, according to his stepfather Rabbi Eliyahu Merav, was a “sweet” and “righteous” boy who saw defending Israel as a “privilege”.

Cohen had been due to be at home when the attack took place, but had offered to spend extra time in uniform to help out comrades who wanted time off.

Moryosef and Cohen were killed in an attack that took place just two kilometres from where Shira Ish-Ran and six other people were shot.

There have also been several other non-fatal attacks in recent days, including stabbings and an attempted car ramming, and while most incidents were in the West Bank, one stabbing attack took place in Jerusalem. There are indications that Hamas is behind at least some of the violence.

The IDF has been carrying out extensive anti-terror operations in the West Bank, to locate attackers and prevent further incidents.

“The battle against terror is an ongoing one, and the message to terror and terrorists is clear,” Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said as operations heated up.

Forces fatally shot a man suspected of involvement in the Ish-Ran attack. He has been identified by Palestinian media as Salah Omar Barghouti, the 29-year-old son of Hamas activist Omar Barghouti.

Forces also located Ashraf Na’alowa, a terrorist who is believed to have carried out the October attack at a West Bank industrial park, killing two Israelis. A firefight ensued and Na’alowa was killed. Israeli operatives have started to demolish his home.

The intense anti-terror activity has included raids and car searches – including a vehicle search that turned up an M16 assault rifle and an Uzi sub-machine gun.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently also became Defence Minister, described security efforts as “vigorous”.

He told his cabinet: “I sent a clear message to Hamas: We will not accept a situation in which there is a ceasefire in Gaza and terrorism in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. We will exact a heavy price for this.”

NATHAN JEFFAY