While the forces went from house to house in the Palestinian villages adjacent to the settlement, the residents of Bat Ayin gathered Thursday evening for a meeting with the community's rabbi, Daniel Cohen, in an attempt to deal with their pain.
Talking to Ynet, Cohen spoke of the emotionally charged meeting, during which he called on his friends to practice restraint and refrain from acts of revenge.
"I spoke to the residents about our pain and grief, about the strength we're getting and the complete faith we have in our right to be here in Israel," the rabbi said. "I explained to them that God sometimes picks roses from the garden, brings them over, and that's it's the righteous youths of all people which he takes."
Some 50 people took part in the meeting, which was held after Nativ was laid to rest.
The attack also left seven-year-old Yair Gamliel moderately injured. He is still hospitalized at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital and suffers from fractured skull.
His father, a member of the extreme right-wing Bat Ayin Underground, who is serving a prison sentence for attempting to blow up a cart outside an Arab hospital and a girls' school in east Jerusalem, turned down an offer by the Israel Prison Service to visit his son handcuffed and under tight security.
The defense establishment believes it is most likely that the terrorist who carried out the attack acted on his own. One of the residents struggled with him and tried to stop him, but the assailant fled to one of the nearby Palestinian villages.
According to the rabbi, the residents of Bat Ayin don't fear the terrorist's return, but "they're definitely afraid that other murderers will be sent over and that the Arab culture will continue to encourage them."
IDF soldiers search for the terrorist (Photo: AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was briefed on the attack on Thursday. His office said in a statement that "Netanyahu views the attack with tremendous severity, and has instructed the security officials to exert every effort in order to capture the murderer."
Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Oshri, deputy commander of the Etzion Division, said after the terror attack that the IDF had "a lead" and estimated that the terrorist would be caught shortly, but the search continues.
According to the community's rabbi, everyone must be patient. "I didn't even think about a failure on the part of the IDF. I am certain that they did the best they could."
'A great, gentle family'
The Bat Ayin settlement is not fenced. Following the attack, the residents came up with ideas to improve the security, but they have no plans to set up a fence around the community.
"No one believes a fence will solve anything," said Cohen. "It's a sort of delusion. It takes about 20 seconds to cut a fence and enter through it. It does create a sense of security, but does not help as a defensive force."
According to the rabbi, one of the suggestions was to place cameras and observation means. "We spoke about adding self-defense measures," he said.
Community grieves (Photo: AFP)
Following the attack, different people expressed their fear of act of revenge. According to Cohen, however, the meeting's attendees did not discuss this possibility.
"I didn't see any anger. I saw pain. The only response to the murder of our sons is to add one community after another and cause deterrence. This was fully accepted. There was not a single person who protested this. I don't know what is going on in my friends' hearts, I'm not God, but I believe everyone agrees about this. I did not hear one word about taking revenge."
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report