The Palestinian terrorist who shot and killed three Israelis in West Bank settlement Har Adar on Tuesday morning was Namir Mahmoud, a 37-year-old father of four from the neighboring village of Beit Surik with a permit to work in Israeli settlements.
Mahmoud had significant personal and family problems including domestic violence. His wife had fled to Jordan recently and left him with his children, the Shin Bet security services said.
In a message he asked his wife to post on Facebook, Mahmoud asked for her forgiveness, writing that he understands the gravity of what he was about to and asked her to take care of their children.
The attack will likely prompt the Shin Bet security service to reevaluate its process of vetting Palestinians who apply for work permits and reopen the larger political discussion of Israel’s policy granting work permits to Palestinians who seek jobs in Israel and in West Bank Jewish settlements.
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Mahmoud was waiting at the eastern gate to Har Adar with a group of Palestinian workers at the scene of the attack, when he aroused suspicion among the guards. When he was asked to stop, he pulled out a gun from his shirt and opened fire, the Border Police said. He was then shot and killed by security forces.
Many of the residents of the Palestinian villages near Har Adar work in the settlements, and a high level of trust has developed between Israelis and Palestinian workers there.
Attacks like these have been rare over the past two years. The wave of terror attacks that began in October 2015, most of them knifing attacks carried out by Palestinian youths, included only one similar incident in which a Palestinian with a security permit carried out an attack.
The security services have taken the position throughout the latest wave of attacks that the employment of Palestinians in Israel and the settlements helps improve the security situation, citing the fact that the overwhelming majority of workers with permits do not carry out terrorist attacks.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the initial assessment of this case shows that the terrorist had no previous history that could have indicated his intentions or marked him as a dangerous figure.
“It is impossible to speak about a nationalist territorial struggle. This conflict is religious,” Erdan said he was on his way to meeting called in response to the attack about work permits for Palestinians.
Meanwhile, coalition whip MK David Bitan (Likud) said: “We must immediately stop the entry of Palestinians into Israel. Palestinian terrorism exploits our goodwill in order to murder Israelis. We must reexamine the policy of [issuing] entry permits to Israel and understand there is no point to negotiations for the purpose of lip service with those who want to exterminate us.”
But Mahmoud’s decision to carry out an attack appears to have been influenced by his own troubled life.
Mahmoud wrote to his wife on Monday, asking her to post a message on his Facebook page. The message read: “I declare in the name of God that my wife ‘Um Baha’ is a very good woman and mother and I hurt her and treated her in an offensive way and all because I was stupidly envious of what I could not achieve in our society. I state that I am healthy and aware that whatever happens tomorrow is not related to my wife and she deserves all her rights. And I ask her to forgive me and to take care of the children.”
Mahmoud was from Beit Sourik, a village near Har Hadar. Ahmad Al-Jamal, the Beit Sourik Council Chairman told Haaretz knew him and said it was hard to grasp that he had carried out a deadly terror attack.
“He was not known as an activist in one faction or another,” Al-Jamal said.
He also said a large number of soldiers were currently carrying out arrests in the village.
Hamas issued a statement welcoming the attack.
Hussam Badran, a Hamas politburo member, described it as a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and was evidence the “al-Quds Intifada” was ongoing, even if it seemed like there were occasional lulls.