The Israeli army arrested two Palestinians as part of a large-scale manhunt for the attack that killed an Israeli woman and wounded two others in the West Bank.
The army arrested Ribhi Abu al-Safa and Mohammed Nayef Abu al-Safa from the village of Ein Arik after raiding and ransacking their homes. They also arrested former prisoner Israr Maarouf, who is a student at Birzeit University, from Ein Qinya.
Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said the Ramallah operation was very disturbing to Israeli security as this type of attack was rare and unusual.
Israeli security sources said that five similar attacks were thwarted since the beginning of the year.
The arrest came hours after chief of Israeli army Aviv Kochavi announced that security services were at an advanced stage of the search. Kochavi said significant efforts were being made in the intelligence field to quickly arrest the perpetrators.
Rina Shnerb, 17, was killed and her father and brother were seriously injured in a bombing at a natural spring outside the central West Bank settlement
Israel Forces Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said the army considered the blast to be a “serious terror attack,” noting that the device may have been planted at night by Palestinians who knew the area well, detonated it remotely and then fled the scene.
Israeli forces sealed off main roads leading to the western Ramallah in the West Bank, deployed troops, and blocked major roads
The youths were arrested after Israeli soldiers seized tapes from the street surveillance cameras installed by shop and homeowners in these villages.
The new operation reinforced Israeli fears of a gradual security deterioration leading to a possible popular uprising soon ahead of next month's Israeli elections.
Israeli military officials have warned in recent weeks of an increase in attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as Israeli elections approach.
Hamas praised the perpetrators of a bombing in the West Bank, saying it was a “proof of the vitality and bravery of the Palestinian people, and of the fact that it will not surrender to the crimes and terrorism of the occupation.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called it “a heroic attack,” though he claimed he was not aware as to who was responsible.
But it “shows that the default state in the West Bank is one of resistance, despite what our residents suffer there. The West Bank has strong people who are no less faithful and steadfast than their brethren in Gaza,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to arrest the perpetrators and intensify settlement activity in the West Bank in response to the attack. Meanwhile, the United States has called on the Palestinian Authority to explicitly condemn the attack.
US special envoy to the Mideast Jason Greenblatt described the attack as “savage” which killed an Israeli teenager who was with her family.
“This isn’t the path to peace, just endless suffering,” he tweeted.
Greenblatt called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to “unequivocally condemn this attack,” adding that “if they don't, donor countries should demand the PA answer for why their donor funds continue to be used to reward attacks.”
The PA usually does not condemn any operations against Israeli soldiers or settlers inside the West Bank given that it is an occupied territory, but condemns operations in Israel.