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Israeli forces arrest two men accused in ax attack that killed three

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Israeli forces arrest two men accused in ax attack that killed three
Israeli forces announced Sunday that they had arrested two men, pictured here, accused of wielding axes to kill three people in the city of Elad on Israel's Independence Day. Photo courtesy Israel Police

May 8 (UPI) -- Two men accused of killing three people in an attack in the Israeli city of Elad were arrested by Israeli forces Sunday, security officials said.

The two suspects, 19-year-old As'ad Yousef As'ad al-Rifa'i and 20-year-old Subhi Emad Sbeihat, were arrested in a forested area near Elad, Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet security agency and Israel police said in a joint statement.

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"A joint team spotted the two suspicious figures near a quarry," the joint statement said.

The men were unarmed at the time of the arrest but axes used in the attack were later found by security forces nearby.

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Authorities launched a manhunt after the attack Thursday with special forces from the IDF's commando units deployed along with canine units, drones and helicopters.

"The hunt for the terrorists is over," Israel Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai said. "The intense activity immediately after the incident and the flooding of the area with hundreds of policemen and soldiers, along with the means we used, forced them to hide in the area and led us to find them."

Three men were killed and four more were injured in the attack in the ultra-Orthodox town near Tel Aviv on Thursday as Israel's Independence Day was winding down on Thursday night.

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The victims killed in the attack were identified as Yonatan Havakuk, 44; Boaz Gol, 49; and Oren Ben Yiftach, 35.

On Saturday, the hospital where two of the victims who were in serious condition were being treated said neither remained in life-threatening condition.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet praised security forces for the arrest as he opened a Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

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"We said we would get our hands on the terrorists and so we did," he said.

Bennet added that he has instructed the National Security Council and the Defense Ministry to present a plan to establish a national guard by the end of the month.

"We are at the beginning of a new stage in the war on terror -- it is impossible to incite and rest. You cannot throw a match and run away," he said.

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