Israel arrests two Palestinian axe murder suspects

Israeli security services on Sunday arrested two Palestinians suspected of axing to death three Israelis after a more than two-day manhunt, the latest killings in a spate of deadly attacks.

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The security services — who previously identified the suspects as Assad Yussef al-Rifai, 19, and Subhi Imad Abu Shukair, 20 — said the pair were spotted near a quarry just outside the central town of Elad, where the axe attack took place on Thursday.

The deadly attack in Elad, populated by mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews, was the sixth in which Israelis have been targeted since March 22.

Witnesses said two assailants leapt from a car swinging axes at passers-by, leaving three dead and four wounded, before fleeing in the same vehicle.

“We said we would get the terrorists, and so we did,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said ahead of his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
The bloodshed unfolded as Israel marked the 74th anniversary of its founding, which has previously been a tense day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For Palestinians, the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence marks the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, when more than 700,000 fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel’s creation.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz praised the joint operation by the police, the army and the Shin Bet internal security agency — which included helicopters, drones and a large deployment of forces.

Israel has identified the three dead as Yonatan Habakuk, 44, and Boaz Gol, 49, both from Elad, as well as Oren Ben Yiftach, 35.

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