“Five Palestinians were arrested Friday in connection with a suspected terror attack in the northern Jordan Valley in which a retired IDF colonel was bludgeoned to death overnight.
The arrests came after several hours of searches and roadblocks by security forces in the area, following the early-morning killing.
IDF Chief Benny Gantz called the attack “serious” and President Shimon Peres said “no one will rest” until the perpetrators were caught.
Officials initially said they were not sure whether the attack was nationalistically motivated or criminal in nature. However, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, “We strongly believe this was a terror attack.”
Seraiah Ofer, 61, was beaten to death by men wielding metal bars and axes outside his home in the Brosh Habika vacation village, which he owned and operated, at about 1 a.m. Friday.
His wife, Monique Mor, 51, managed to escape. She was lightly injured on barbed wire before reaching a nearby highway, where she flagged down a car for help.
The attack, coming on the heels of a number of isolated incidents over the past month, drew harsh responses from politicians.
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, from the nationalist Jewish Home party, said in a statement Friday morning he would work to “enlarge and strengthen” settlement in the area.
“This is the proper Zionist response to a revolting murder,” Ariel said.
The vacation village, which was empty at the time of the attack, is located about five kilometers south of the settlement of Shadmot Mechola, in the northern Jordan Valley, a sparsely populated wilderness on the eastern edge of the West Bank.
Ofer and his wife reportedly heard noises outside the house, and when he went out to investigate, he was attacked by the men. Mor said the attackers, who used iron bars and an ax, spoke Arabic.
Ofer had served as commander of the Gaza district and in elite combat units, Mor said. According to Ynet, he moved to the area in the 90s to invest money in tourism in the area, and became a popular local figure.
He built the Brosh Habika vacation village six years ago over an old Jordanian base, the news website reported.
Ofer’s brother, Yitzhak Ofer, was killed exactly 40 years ago — on October 11, 1973 — while flying a mission for Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
Ariel said Ofer was a personal friend of his, and one of the best officers in the IDF.
“Ya-Ya was always the pioneer,” he said, using Ofer’s nickname. “He was like that in the IDF and he was like that in the settlement enterprise, leading many behind him to settle in the Jordan Valley, which he saw as of prime Zionist importance.”
Israel has responded to terror attacks by upping settlement activity in the past, most recently in late September, when the defense minister allowed settlers in Hebron to move into a disputed home following the killing of an Israeli soldier, Gal Kobi, thought to be from Palestinian sniper fire.
Ariel and other politicians also called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop Palestinian prisoner releases and rethink peace talks with the Palestinians in the wake of the murder, which came on the heels of a shooting of a 9-year-old girl in the Psagot settlement outside Ramallah on Saturday. Noam Glick was lightly injured in that attack.
“Again Palestinians are translating our desire for peace as weakness and are answering with murder,” Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud party said Friday morning.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon told Israel Radio he blamed the attack on Palestinian incitement, and called on the government to reconsider peace talks and the freeing of prisoners.
On Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Palestinian television he saw any refusal to free prisoners as freeing him to go to the United Nations Security Council to lodge complaints against Israel.”
10/11/13. A new kind of terrorism. Avi Issacharoff, timesofisrael.com
“In the aftermath of the murder overnight Thursday of retired IDF colonel Seraiah Ofer in the Jordan Valley, early indications suggest that the incident was the latest in a series of sporadic terror attacks carried out by assailants using improvised weapons rather than by organized terror groups. Monique Mor, Ofer’s wife, who heard the assailants speaking outside their home in the Brosh Habika vacation village late Thursday, said they used axes and iron bars to carry out the killing — not “classic” murder weapons.
The suspicion, when looking at what have now been four terror attacks in the West Bank in the past month, is of a new phenomenon: Terrorism that is not carefully premeditated by an organization such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad — rather, attacks by Palestinians acting independently, bent on murdering Israelis, be they soldiers or civilians.
That was the case with the killing near the West Bank village of Qalqilya last month of off-duty soldier Tomer Hazan, whose murderer worked with him at a Bat Yam restaurant, allegedly lured him to his family’s home village, strangled him, threw his body into a well, and went home to sleep. Then came the single sniper shot that killed IDF soldier Gal Kobi while he was on duty in Hebron. And finally the apparently amateurish attack, with an improvised weapon, that lightly injured nine-year-old Noam Glick at her home in Psagot on Saturday night.
There is no known direct connection between any of these attacks, and no reason to believe that any of the assailants knew each other — which only complicates the task of the security authorities in tracking down all those responsible. Some of those involved may have no record of terrorism, and no contacts among known terrorists, weapons experts, or terror cells.
These assailants are springing up from beneath the radar of the security services, to fatal effect.
The calls on the right of the political spectrum to halt the diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority offer no practical solution. Indeed, every day that passes without a diplomatic solution constitutes additional motivation for these killers: The absence of a sense of optimism about progress, continued settlement construction, and the intermittent deaths of Palestinians in clashes with the IDF all contribute to the atmosphere that produces such attacks.
An additional, critical factor is the relentless incitement against Israel in Palestinian media and social networks. The Palestinian Authority’s security forces are making almost daily arrests among the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and even Fatah ranks, confiscating weaponry, and displaying a surprising capability in the field.
Last Saturday, for instance, hundreds of PA security personnel raided the Jenin refugee camp, conducting house-to-house searches for weaponry. On Thursday, PA forces raided the home there of a prominent Hamas security prisoner, Jamal Abu al-Hajah, and attempted to arrest his son — actions unlikely to endear the PA to local residents. And yet Fatah’s Facebook pages overflow with praise for terrorists, including suicide bombers, who have murdered Israelis. Thus, the PA acts against terrorism while simultaneously encouraging it.
At the peace table, there are no signs of a breakthrough or of any significant progress, apart from rumors of some advances on the subject of water. And at his meeting with Labor MKs in Ramallah on Monday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas stated a new readiness to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — when the Americans deem that the time is ripe.
PA sources say that it is the US mediator, Martin Indyk, who has been unenthusiastic about a top-level summit, fearing it would end in failure, but the Americans might be coming round.
Meanwhile, Abbas is said to be threatening that if the second of the four agreed phases of Palestinian prisoner releases is delayed, he will revive his efforts to advance Palestinian statehood and interests via the UN and associated forums.”