Three IDF battalions scoured the West Bank for the Palestinian gunmen who sprayed a car with bullets on Thursday night, killing Yehuda Dimentman, 25, and wounding two others.
Dimentman was married, with a toddler. He was a resident of the Shavei Shomron settlement and a student at the Homesh Yeshiva, located close to where the attack took place.
The IDF blamed a terror cell for the shooting, noting that more than 10 bullets were fired at the vehicle."We were leaving Homesh. When we came to the left turn at the exit, we suddenly heard bursts of gunfire," recalled Aviah Entman, a survivor of the attack.
"The gunfire was from a man, who apparently, stood very close to the road, simply waited for us and shot at us," Entman explained.
"I felt a strong blow in my left hand. I immediately told the driver to go fast," Entman told reporters at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where he and the other lightly wounded victim were treated. The driver of the vehicle was unscathed.
He recalled the harrowing ride he and three others — all students at the yeshiva — took as their vehicle raced on busted tires without air to the nearby Shavei Shomron settlement which had been their original destination.
Dimentman shouted from the back seat that he was hit in the throat, recalled Entman.
"The driver increased his speed. We drove as fast as we could. On the way we communicated as much as we could with security forces," Entman said. He wore a hospital gown and sat in a wheelchair as he spoke.
Once they arrived at Shavei Shomron, Dimentman was evacuated by helicopter to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva.The car containing three Israelis that was shot up by terrorists, December 16, 2021. (Credit: Hatzalah)
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan went immediately to the scene and then personally visited the victim’s young widow along with a medical team to inform her of her husband’s death. Dimentman funeral will be held on Friday morning, with eulogies delivered first at Homesh and then at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pledged that the terrorists would not be able to hide for long.
“The security forces will get their hands on the terrorists very soon and we’ll ensure that justice is served,” Bennett said.
“Together with all the people of Israel, I send heartfelt condolences to the family of the person killed .. and a speedy recovery to the wounded,” he said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz added that “we will continue to take any measures necessary in facing terror groups in the area.”
It was the second terror shooting attack in the last month. On November 21 a Hamas gunman in the Old City killed South African-born Israeli tour guide Eli Kay, 26.
The Homesh terror attack took place amid a heated debate within Israel on settler violence against Palestinians, with the Right denying that such incidents existed and arguing that the focus should be on Palestinian violence against Israelis.
Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev sparked the debate on Monday when he tweeted that during his meeting with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland she was “interested, among other things, in settler violence.”
On Thursday night Bar Lev tweeted that “Palestinian terror is once again rearing its ugly head.”
פיגוע קשה ליד חומש הערב.הטרור הפלסטיני מרים שוב את ראשו המכוער.תנחומיי למשפחתו ויקיריו של בן הישיבה שנרצח והחלמה מהירה לפצועים.אֶרְדּוֹף אוֹיְבַי וְאַשִּׂיגֵם וְלֹא אָשׁוּב עַד כַּלּוֹתָם— עמר בר-לב (@omerbarlev) December 16, 2021
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir blamed Bar Lev for the terror attack.
“Your incitement has resulted in the killing and injury of Jews. Resign!,” Ben-Gvir tweeted.
תפסיק לציץ ומיד תתפטר. ההסתה שלך גרמה להרג ופציעה של יהודים. תתפטר! https://t.co/gllQuTYc2f
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) December 16, 2021
Palestinian factions in Gaza, including Hamas and the PIJ, praised the attack.
“This operation proves once again that our heroic Palestinian people in the West Bank will continue their legitimate struggle until the occupier is expelled from all of our Palestinian land and its settlers are swept away,” Hamas said.
“The great spirit of resistance and sacrifice, which extends along and across the cities of the West Bank, is the sure guarantor of victory for our people, and the embodiment of its goals of liberation and return,” Hamas added.
The attack took place at the entry way to the former Homesh settlement, which the IDF evacuated in 2005 after the Gaza withdrawal.
For the last 16-years settlers have called on the government to rebuild the community. In an attempt to preserve Israel's hold on the land, a modular yeshiva has illegally sat on the site since the evacuation. The IDF has periodically evacuated the yeshiva, only to have settlers rebuild it almost immediately.
The land itself had originally belong to the nearby Palestinian village of Burqua, but was seized by the IDF in the 1970s for military use. In the aftermath of the settlement's 2005 destruction, the High Court of Justice has upheld the rights of Palestinians to farm the hilltop, a move that has led to clashes with settlers on the hilltop.
On Thursday night both Dagan and Yesha Council CEO Yigal Dilmoni called on Bennett to respond to the terror attack by allowing Homesh to be rebuilt.
Dilmoni blamed the IDF for not doing enough to protect settlers in the area of Homesh and Shavei Shomron.
“We have been demanding adequate security” for some time, Dilmoni said, adding "the address for this attack has been on the wall.”