JERUSALEM — Israeli security forces captured two Palestinians on Sunday who were suspected of perpetrating an ax attack that killed three Israeli Jews in the central town of Elad on Thursday night. The detentions ended an intensive search and calmed fears that the assailants could come out of hiding and attack again.
The two suspects were captured alive and unarmed as they hid in bushes in woodland, the authorities said, not far from Elad, a predominantly ultra-Orthodox town. The Israeli police, the military and the Shin Bet internal security agency announced the capture on Sunday morning and released photographs and video of the moment of the men’s arrest.
The assault in Elad on Thursday was the fifth terrorist attack in Israel since late March.
The police distributed the names and photographs of two suspects Thursday night, identifying them as Asad Al Refai, 19, and Subhi Abu Shakir, 20, both residents of the Palestinian village of Romana in the northern Jenin district of the occupied West Bank.
Tensions have risen in recent weeks amid clashes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at Al Aqsa Mosque compound, a Jerusalem holy site also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.
Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, has urged Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel to attack Israelis. Days before the assault in Elad, Yehya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, warned that any further raids by the Israeli police in the mosque compound would prompt a response. In a fiery speech, he urged members of Israel’s Arab minority to “get your cleavers, axes or knives ready.”
In all, 19 people have been killed in Arab attacks since March 20.
Israel has responded with a series of raids in the occupied West Bank and nearly 30 Palestinians have been killed, according to local news reports, most of them involved in attacks or confrontations with Israeli forces.
Israeli officials said that one of the victims of Thursday’s ax attack in Elad, Oren Ben-Yiftah, 35, a deliveryman, had given the attackers a ride from the boundary between Israel and the West Bank to the town. Mr. Ben-Yiftah, a father of six from Lod, Israel, apparently believed that the pair were going to work in Elad.
After arriving in Elad, the assailants killed Mr. Ben-Yiftah in his car then ran into a park to continue their rampage, terrorizing families who were celebrating Israel’s Independence Day. There they killed Boaz Gol, 49, and Yonatan Havakuk, 44, residents of Elad who each had five children, and wounded several other men.
Myra Noveck contributed reporting from Jerusalem.