Nineteen-year-old As’sad al-Rifai and 20-year-old Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir were arrested in a forested area close to Elad after a massive four-day manhunt.

Israeli forces had mounted an extensive search since the incident in Elad, some 15 kilometres north of Tel Aviv.
Israeli forces had mounted an extensive search since the incident in Elad, some 15 kilometres north of Tel Aviv. (AFP)

Israeli forces have arrested two Palestinians accused of carrying out a deadly axe attack in the city of Elad, in which three Israelis were killed.

An Israeli military statement said the two suspects—19-year-old As’sad al-Rifai and 20-year-old Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir—were arrested on Sunday in a forested area close to Elad.

According to the statement, the two suspects were from Rumana in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

They were arrested after a massive four-day manhunt involving special forces and helicopters.

There was no claim of responsibility for Thursday’s attack, which came amid rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

The arrests come amid an announcement by the Israeli army to extend the closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip until Monday.

In a statement, Israel's military liaison unit to the Palestinians, known as COGAT, said the move was taken after a security evaluation of the situation in the Palestinian territories.

The statement said medical and humanitarian cases will be allowed to travel via the crossings during the closure.

Israeli security officials are set to meet later on Sunday to assess the situation and decide on whether to extend the closure beyond Monday.

READ MORE: Israel set to approve 4,000 settler homes in occupied West Bank

Tension prevails

Tensions have soared in recent weeks after a series of fatal attacks in Israel and deadly Israeli arrest raids across the occupied West Bank.

Settler incursions into Al Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem have exacerbated the situation. 

Over the past month, Palestinians and Israeli police have been involved in repeated confrontations at the site.

Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognised by the international community.

READ MORE: Dozens of Israeli settlers storm Al Aqsa complex

Source: TRTWorld and agencies