By Efrat Forsher and Israel Hayom/JNS.org
A Palestinian terrorist killed a 31-year-old resident of Yitzhar on Tuesday morning at a bus stop at the Tapuach Junction in Samaria. The victim, father of five Evyatar Borovsky, was the first Israeli to be killed in a terror attack in Judea and Samaria since 2011.
A preliminary investigation of the incident suggested that the terrorist, Salam Za’al, a resident of Tulkarem, arrived at the junction armed with a knife. He stabbed the victim, who was waiting at a hitchhiking stop, several times in the chest, and grabbed his handgun. He then opened fire at a nearby Border Police patrol and subsequently tried to flee, but the police officers returned fire and subdued him. According to a Border Police spokesman, Za’al had run into a roadblock, preventing him from causing more damage with the stolen gun.
Za’al sustained moderate wounds in the exchange of fire. An emergency medical team was dispatched, and provided emergency care to Borovsky, who sustained critical stab wounds. Resuscitation efforts failed and he was declared dead at the scene. Za’al was evacuated to a hospital in Petach Tikva for further medical attention.
According to media reports, Za’al had been released from an Israeli prison, where he served a three-year sentence for throwing rocks, less than six months ago. The terrorist’s brother, who is currently jailed in the Palestinian Authority, faced trial on Sunday for allegedly cooperating with Israel. Speculation has been raised that Za’al may have committed the attack in order to restore his family’s honor.
Later Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces troops raided Za’al’s home, Israeli media reported.
Borovsky was the youngest of four brothers, and has been living in the Jewish community of Yitzhar for five years. He worked as an actor in several ensembles and was a part of the Yitzhar security team. His eldest son is 7 years old.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the incident on Tuesday, saying, “I want to extend my condolences, and the condolences of the entire Israeli people, to the family of Evyatar Borovsky, may he rest in peace. The terrorist who perpetrated the murder has been apprehended and we will continue to act on this front as well to protect our citizens.”
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika also issued a statement following the attack, saying, “This heinous murder is a direct result of [Israeli] helplessness in the face of rock-throwing terrorism, the removal of checkpoints and the ongoing, reckless classification of daily terror attacks as ‘disruptions.’ The Israel Defense Forces and the defense establishment must understand that this terrorism kills. The government has to completely change its approach and treat this terrorism as terrorism.”
Avi Roeh, the chairman of the Yesha Council, said, “The terror attack this morning is a direct continuation of the incitement within the Palestinian Authority and the forgiving [Israeli] attitude toward rock-throwing attacks. All the talk about ‘goodwill gestures’ and the release of [Palestinian] prisoners is also motivating the murderers. We demand an urgent meeting with the defense minister on the issue of overcoming terror and exercising an iron fist to combat the rock throwing attacks and the murderers.”
Shortly after the attack, a group of Jewish residents hurled rocks at a school bus carrying young Palestinian schoolgirls near Yitzhar. Several girls were hurt in the attack. Additional reports suggested that settlers had also vandalized Palestinian property in the area in response to the morning’s stabbing.
Also on Tuesday, the Israel Air Force carried out a surgical strike in the Gaza Strip, the first since November’s Operation Pillar of Defense, targeting a terrorist linked to the recent rocket fire on Eilat. Palestinian sources in Gaza said that one man was killed and another was wounded in the strike.
A Palestinian Authority source told Israel Hayom that Egypt was briefed ahead of the operation. The strike was part of a joint Israel Security Agency and Israel Defense Forces operation against 24-year-old Haitham Ziad Ibrahim al-Mes-hal, a resident of the Shati refugee camp in western Gaza and a known terror operative, who had been linked to al-Qaida. He was hit while riding a motorcycle in the northern part of the enclave.
An Israeli government spokesman said the military had hit a “jihadi who was an expert in manufacturing rockets.”
The IDF confirmed that an IAF strike in Gaza took place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The attack came just two days after Netanyahu had warned of a strong military response to sporadic rocket fire on Israel.
“Today, we took out one of the men involved in the criminal rocket fire on Eilat. As I said, we will not abide the trickling of rocket fire on Israel from Gaza or from Sinai,” Netanyahu said Sunday.
This story first appeared in Israel Hayom, whose English-language content is distributed exclusively in the U.S. by JNS.org.