Terrorist victim Ezra Schwartz.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year old American on a gap year in an Israeli yeshiva was one of three murdered victims of a terrorist attack late Thursday afternoon at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank. Seven others were lightly wounded in the attack.
Palestinian Shadi Arafeh, 24, of Hebron, was also pronounced dead at the scene.
Yaakov Don, 49, a teacher and father of four who lived in the nearby Alon Shvut settlement was evacuated to Hadassah- University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Karem in serious condition and was pronounced dead upon his arrival in the hospital.
Schwartz was in a van with five others friends from Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh, where he studied. They had been in the area to distribute food to soldiers stationed in the area. Their van was among the many cars stuck in traffic at the junction.
Security forces apprehend Gush Etzion shooting suspect
A Palestinian terrorist driving through the junction opened fire with an automatic rifle at the cars before ramming a vehicle with his car. Security forces surrounded the terrorist and arrested him.
Magen David Adom paramedics pronounced Schwartz dead at the scene. His five friends were evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Three were treated for light injuries and two for shock; they were all released.
Two Israeli women, one lightly injured from the gun fire and another from the car accident, were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where they were kept overnight.
The United States harshly condemned the attack.
“We condemn these terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in the strongest possible terms,” Edgar Vasquez, a spokesperson for the State Department, told The Jerusalem Post. “As we’ve made clear, we remain deeply concerned about the situation,” he said, “and continue to urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.”
Within hours after the attack, friends posted messages about Schwartz on his Facebook page.
The teen, from Sharon, Massachusetts, was a graduate of Maimonides Day School.
His friend Adam Kingstein wrote, “I only knew Ezra Schwartz for a few months, but he was always such a good friend. He was always so happy to see everyone and gave all his friends hugs whenever he saw them.
After only knowing Ezra for a few weeks, I asked him to room with me at Rutgers next year. We were so excited for it and spoke a lot about how college together would be. Even if we won’t be roommates next year, you’ll always be with me at college.”
Benjamin Edelman wrote, “Ezra was a great and kind friend to me” on our summer strip to Israel. “You feel like you’ve known a person forever after going on a trip like that with them. Some of my greatest memories on the trip were with Ezra. We, along with Dov and Henryck, would choose to room together every Shabbat, and he always made me laugh and have a great time. Ezra’s constant positivity and kindness made him an amazing human being, and I am shocked and deeply saddened by what happened today. Rest in peace my friend.”
Michael Wilner in Washington contributed to this report. •