An Israel officer and a conscript were killed securing a highway in northern Samaria on Friday, March 16. A third remained in critical condition Saturday after surgery for severe head trauma; a fourth suffered “moderate” injuries to his lower limbs. The four Israeli servicemen were securing the highway outside Mevo Dotan 8km from Jenin in northern Samaria, when Alla Kabha, 26, from Barta’a village, deliberately crashed his car at high speed into a group of soldiers.
Early Saturday, the top IDF top brass visited the scene of the attack: Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gady Eisenkot was given a briefing, accompanied by the new OC of IDF Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Nadav Padan; Coordinator of the Government in the Territories (COGAT), Maj.-Gen Yoav Mordechai; Head of the Home Front Command, Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai; and Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brig.-Gen. Eran Niv.
The military spokesman meanwhile announced that an earlier closure of Barta’a village had been lifted, while searches were conducted. Then came announcements that the terrorist’s brother had been detained for questioning, his home mapped out for the demolition squad, and work permits in Israel revoked for around 60 members of his extended family.
Highway 585 which serves the Israeli communities in the area was reopened for Palestinian traffic, although roadblocks were set up for checking passing cars. Gen. Eisenkot’s “back to normal” policy was in full swing short hours after a deadly attack, leaving too many questions unanswered.
DEBKAfile’s military sources ask the following:
- What exactly happened? It was reported that the four soldiers caught by the speeding car had just alighted from their patrol jeep. Two were standing next to the front of the vehicle, and two at the side facing the road. The Palestinian car appears to have hit the first group and then reversed and veered round to hit the other two, a maneuver than must have taken more than a few seconds. Why did none of the other members of the unit shoot the driver to stop the attack?
- Why was a single jeep out on patrol, instead of the regulation pair?
- Was the “pillbox” guard post below which the attack occurred manned? And if so, why did the soldiers fail to open fire on the rampaging Palestinian vehicle? The guard post was presumably equipped with the regulation electronic surveillance gear for keeping track of suspicious movements in the surrounding area. Why was the attack not forestalled?
- Immediately after the event, the Shin Bet security service suddenly released a load of statistics: In the past year, the service had foiled 200 “lone” terrorist attacks. Was this communique meant to play down the deadly car-ramming attack as just another act by a loner – even before a proper investigation was launched and had a chance to establish if Alla Kabha acted on behalf of a terrorist organization?