Two Israelis from Efrat were murdered and one was seriously wounded in a shooting attack near Hamra in the Jordan Valley on Friday morning.
The wounded woman was transferred to Hadassah Medical Center in critical condition. The incident was initially reported as a traffic accident, but an initial investigation found that Palestinians fired at the vehicle, causing it to veer to the shoulder and crash, and then fired again at the vehicle to ensure that they had hit the women. Over 20 bullet casings were found at the scene.
Efrat council head Oded Revivi announced that the murdered women were two sisters from Efrat and the wounded woman is their mother. Their father was in a separate vehicle and arrived at the scene after rescue efforts had begun. Revivi stressed that the local council is working to provide the family with any welfare requirements they need in this difficult time.
IDF soldiers are searching the area for the suspected terrorists and have set up checkpoints in the area. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a situation assessment in light of the attack on Friday afternoon and instructed the defense establishment to allocate all the necessary resources to catch the terrorists and to strengthen security on the roads throughout the West Bank and Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also set to hold a situation assessment on Friday.
MDA paramedic, Dennis Polikov, stated "When we arrived at the scene, we saw an Israeli vehicle with three crushed women and a Palestinian vehicle. Two young women in their 20's were pulled out of the vehicle as they were unconscious without a pulse and without breathing with multi-system injuries and after medical tests they were pronounced dead in the field. A 40-year-old woman is suffering from severe multi-system injuries and we are fighting for her life in the field."
Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai responded to the attack during a situation assessment on Friday morning, saying "This is a murderous attack that reminds us how relevant the threat of terrorism is in its various forms. Therefore, alongside our operations and that of the security forces in all sectors, I call on every citizen who has a licensed firearm and is skilled in operating it legally - to carry it these days."
"I call on every citizen who has a licensed firearm and is skilled in operating it legally - to carry it these days."Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai
The commander of the IDF's Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, stated "We experienced an extremely severe terrorist attack. As we knew how to pursue and find the terrorists until now, we will also deal with these terrorists. We are reinforcing forces in all sectors. We were unable to prevent this attack, but we will do everything we can to prevent the following attacks."
Shooting comes amid heightened tensions in region
The shooting comes amid heightened tensions in the region after clashes at al-Aqsa mosque and after dozens of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon towards Israel in recent days.
Opposition head Yair Lapid condemned the attack, saying "a black and painful Friday. Two young women were murdered in the [Jordan] Valley. Another woman is fighting for her life. The price of terrorism is heavy today and the heart is broken. I pray with all the people of Israel for the woman's life and send warm condolences to the families who lost their dearest today in the Valley. The security forces will not rest until they catch the despicable killers. Terrorism will not defeat us, we will strike them with a heavy hand."
Gush Etzion Regional Council head and chairman of the Yesha Council, Sholmo Neeman, called on the government to "put aside our differences and act with an iron fist."
"A terrible attack took place today, on Passover, in the Jordan Valley. Despicable subhumans harmed young women who were on their way to celebrate. Our only enemy is the terrorism that raised its head and it must be eliminated, the terrorists must be caught and made sure that they do not survive," added Neeman. "It is time to stop with the policy of containment and implement a policy of attack. Only heavy-handed action against the enemy and the continued construction and development of the Jewish settlement will restore peace to the region. No terror will subdue us, we will continue to live and grow in the land of our ancestors."
The Hamas terrorist movement called the attack a "natural response to the occupation's ongoing crimes against Al-Aqsa Mosque and its barbaric aggression against Lebanon and the steadfast Gaza."
"We warn the occupation of the consequences of continuing its crimes against Al-Aqsa Mosque," said the movement. "Our people are united and will continue to defend themselves and al-Aqsa, which will remain purely Islamic, with no place for occupation or sovereignty."
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides responded to the attack on Friday afternoon, tweeting "Horrified to see the deadly terror attack in the West Bank today, where a mother was critically injured, and her two daughters were killed. Praying for peace as we continue to observe the holidays."
"I strongly condemn the terrorist attack from the Gaza Strip on innocent civilians," former Bosnia & Herzegovina president and Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik wrote on Twitter. "Terrorism should never be [a] response, especially in those times of spiritual awareness of Christians, Muslims and Jews."
Israeli President Isaac Herzog also commented on the attack, tweeting before Shabbat: "Two sisters, pure souls, caught in a heinous and shocking murder.
"Along with the people of Israel, I pray for the mother's healing."
This is a developing story.