Terror victim Ron Yitzhak Kukia, 19. (Courtesy family)

The fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old IDF soldier in the south was an act of terror, police concluded. A search for the assailant is ongoing.

A 19-year-old IDF soldier was stabbed to death Thursday evening at a bus stop outside a mall in the southern Israeli city of Arad.

The victim, later identified as Ron Yitzhak Kukia of Tel Aviv, died at the scene.

Kukia was lying unconscious, with stab wounds to his upper body, Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service, said. Attempts at resuscitation failed.

“We provided life-saving medical care and performed advanced resuscitation techniques, but we were ultimately forced to declare him dead at the scene,” an MDA paramedic said.

Victim’s Weapon Stolen

Hundreds of police officers are searching for the assailant, who fled the scene and stole the victim’s weapon. After searching throughout the night, they concluded it was an act of Arab terror. They believe the murderer is no longer in the city. Whether there was more than one terrorist involved has not been determined.

“All the special forces were called to the scene – helicopters, dogs, officers – to try to intercept the one who harmed the soldier. We reinforced the security presence in every town in the area. We ask that everyone continue their normal routine. We will respond to any suspicious person or car immediately. I ask the public to be aware, and to call us regarding anything suspicious,” Negev Division Police Commander Brigadier General Natan Bozna said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, Arad has now joined the cities affected by terror, said Mayor Nisan Ben-Hemo. “We never had a nationalistic terror attack before. This ruins our pastoral quiet and the security which Arad’s residents enjoyed. For years, it did not matter if there was a war or there was tension – Arad was considered to be a safe place in every way. Today, unfortunately, reality slapped us in the face.”

‘He Was Only a Boy’

Arad resident Akim Khromoshin tried helping paramedics save Kukia’s life, Arutz 7 reported. Driving along the road, “I suddenly saw someone holding his neck. I helped the medic treat him.”

“The paramedic told me that there was a very deep stab here,” he continued. “It’s a hard feeling when someone dies in your arms. He was only a boy,” he told Israel Hayom.

Kukia, who served in the Nahal Infantry Brigade, was posthumously promoted from the rank of corporal to Sergeant. His funeral will take place on Sunday at 12 p.m. at Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in northern Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu: ‘We Will Bring Them to Justice’

“Security forces are working now to apprehend the terrorists. We will bring them to justice and we will continue to fight terrorism with all our might,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Facebook, offering condolences to the bereaved family.

“Security forces will not rest until they lay their hands on the terrorist who murdered Kokia,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted.

“I offer the grieving family my deepest condolences and offer security forces my support as they hunt down the terrorists and their collaborators,” President Reuven Rivlin stated, saying Israel will fight terrorism “with determination and force.”