Binyamin Netanyahu heard about the the
Hamas shooting attack in the West Bank which killed four Israelis along
Route 60 while en route to
Washington to relaunch direct talks with the
Palestinians, and said upon landing that he would tell
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that this “criminal
proves again the need for Israel to stand steadfastly by its security
Netanyahu said that his heart goes out to the families of the
victims, and that terrorism would not determine Israel’s borders or the
of the settlements.
Analysis: An attempt to torpedo peace talks
Analysis: What if he was opposition leader?
Netanyahu spoke on the plane with Defense
Ehud Barak, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin and
General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Netanyahu, according to his
office, directed the security branches to act “without any diplomatic
constraints against the murderers, and act aggressively against those
Officials in the prime minister’s entourage said that
Netanyahu was outraged by the attack, there was no intention of
trip and returning to Israel.
The US made a statement on Tuesday
night in the wake of the attack. The statement by the Press Secretary
"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms
the terrorist attack today perpetrated by Hamas in which four Israelis
were killed in the southern West Bank. We express our condolences to the
victims’ families and call for the terrorists behind this horrific act
to be brought to justice. We note that the Palestinian Authority has
condemned this attack."
"On the eve of the re-launch of direct
negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, this brutal attack
underscores how far the enemies of peace will go to try to block
progress. It is crucial that the parties persevere, keep moving forward
even through difficult times, and continue working to achieve a just
and lasting peace in the region that provides security for all peoples."
In response to the
attack, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday
night that he "condemns all acts that target Palestinian and Israeli
civilians." Abbas said that the attack in the Hebron attack was designed
to "disrupt the peace process. and can't be regarded as an act of
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the attack was
intended to undermine the PLO's efforts to rally international support
for the Palestinians's demands. He said that the attack was in
contradiction with the national interests of the Palestinians and the
PA's strategic vision, "which combines political struggling with
completion of the building of state institutions." Fayyad called on
Palestinians to abandon violence and maintain the path of peaceful
popular resistance against settlements
attack was believed to have been aimed at torpedoing the
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks,
set to kick off on Wednesday in Washington.
Hamas military wing
Abu Obeida told The Associated Press late Tuesday that Hamas carried out
The four victims, described
by a settler spokesman as a couple and two hitchhikers – were driving on
60 near the entrance to Kiryat Arba when their vehicle came under
fire. The victims were named as Yitzhak Ames, 47, and his wife Tali
45, Kochava Even-Haim, 37, and Avishai Schindler, 24, all from Beit
Ames couple had six children, including a one-and-a-half-year-old
Zaka volunteer Momy Even-Haim was dispatched to the
scene of the
attack with his colleagues, when to his horror he discovered that his
among the dead.
“We saw a crying volunteer, and at first we did
understand what was happening – he has seen many disasters before,” Zaka
volunteer Isaac Bernstein told The
“Then he started
shouting, ‘That’s my wife! That’s my wife!’ We took him away from the
immediately,” Bernstein added. Even-Haim was taken to his home in Beit
Hagai by his colleagues.
“When we arrived on the scene, all four
the car were open and four bodies were strewn on the road,” Magen David
paramedic Guy Ronen told The Jerusalem
Post. “We saw that the vital organs had
been struck by a very large number of bullets, and that there was no
saving their lives,” he added.
“It was a very difficult scene. We
had learned to forget scenes like this in recent years,” Ronen said.
IDF was investigating two possibilities – that Palestinian terrorists
an ambush alongside the road or that the shots were fired from a passing
car. IDF troops immediately launched searches for the perpetrators and
the Central Command raised its level of alert, out of fear that
terrorists will increase efforts to perpetrate attacks in the coming
the goal of torpedoing the peace summit in Washington.
to eyewitness reports, the terrorists succeeded in
hitting the passengers in their initial fire, but then approached the
shot the occupants again at close range. Following the attack, the
Police Operations Branch sent out an order to all officers in the Judea
Samaria district calling on them to increase their awareness and be on
out for potential terror attacks, while maintaining security in the
Barak was also briefed on the attack by Ashkenazi and
“This is a very grave incident,” Barak said. “The IDF and
security forces will do everything they can to capture the
“Israel will not allow terrorists to lift their heads
exact a price from the murderers and those who sent them. This is likely
attempt by terrorist lowlifes to stymie the diplomatic process and to
chances of the talks opening in Washington.”
Shalom, who is acting premier during Netanyahu’s absence, released a
saying that he was in close contact with Barak and with Netanyahu’s
attache and was constantly receiving updates.
again been proven that while we are working to find ways to advance
coexistence, there are those who will continue trying to commit acts of
and murdering innocents,” Shalom said.
“Now it is clearer than
the real obstacles to peace are terror and the extremists who would do
to inflame the entire region. The PA must fulfill its obligations in the
The head of the Civil Administration in Judea and
Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, spoke with his Palestinian counterparts and
them regarding the attack. PA security forces were conducting their own
investigation into the shooting.
While the IDF apparently did not
have specific intelligence
regarding the Tuesday night’s shooting, there had been concern that
groups would use the launching of direct peace talks to perpetrate
the West Bank. Ashkenazi and OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi
had toured Judea and Samaria earlier this week and met with brigade
commanders. Ashkenazi asked the commanders to raise their level of
vigilance for the duration of the summit in Washington out of fear that
Hamas, Islamic Jihad or even al-Qaida-affiliated elements would launch
against Israel. The forces were also asked to avoid friction with the
Palestinian civilian population and to demonstrate sensitivity at the
between Israel and the West Bank.
talking about one of the worst terrorist attacks in the past few years,”
Naftali Bennet, director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of
Samaria and Gaza.
“We’re asking that the prime minister
the plane around and come back to Israel. It’s not possible, while we’re
funerals, that he can stay there. And we’re calling on him, tomorrow
renew the building in Judea and Samaria,” he said.
Tuesday night that it would respond to the attack by unilaterally ending
construction freeze and starting to build on Wednesday.
after the attack, several youths gathered at the entrance to Kiryat Arba
protesting the talks in Washington.
Right-wing MKs also called for the talks to be frozen.
Hoffman, Herb Keinon, and Hilary
Krieger, and Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.