A preliminary investigation into the attack that happened Monday on Route 60 in the Mount Hebron area of the West Bank reveals that the shooting took place near a traffic circle - when the Israeli car in which the murdered woman, 40, her 6-year-old daughter who was not injured, and the seriously injured man, 39, were riding slowed down. The terrorist or terrorists in the passing vehicle "took advantage" of the slow down and opened fire on the car - apparently from an automatic weapon that fired a large amount of bullets.
The victim was named as Batsheva Nigri, a 40-year-old mother of 3, from Beit Hagai.
"Batsheva was a golden woman, full of giving. She warmly adopted foster children and gave them stable ground and a warm home. She was a beloved kindergarten teacher - truly God takes the best," a relative of Nigri told Ynet.
"This is a very big loss; A difficult day of mourning," a family friend said.
Aryeh Gottlieb, 39, from Beit Hagai was identified as the man who was seriously injured in the attack. A relative said that "I ask that they pray for Aryeh. Aryeh was a hero in the incident, he continued to drive until someone could help and operate the vehicle while he was shot."
According to the preliminary investigation in the field, the terrorists fired more than 20 bullets at the Israeli car as it slowed down – the reason the gunshots were fatal. The terrorists cut off the Israeli vehicle and shot at it from short range. The IDF estimates that the escaped into the city of Hebron, the largest of the West Bank cities. The IDF is now operating Air Force unmanned drones in the skies above Hebron and other means of observation in the air as part of the pursuit of the terror squad.
IDF forces began searching for suspects around the scene of the incident, which took place at a point between the town of Yatta and the southern industrial area of Hebron, and near the headquarters of the Yehuda Brigade. The hunt is focused on the area of the towns of Bnei Naim, east of the scene of the attack, and Beita, south of the scene. The fear is that the terrorists fled toward Yatta in Hebron.
As part of the manhunt, the IDF placed a closure around Hebron and the surrounding villages. A military source noted: "The IDF forces are currently searching for the terrorists' vehicle and deploying roadblocks in the area, in addition to closure barriers around Hebron and the surrounding villages. In addition, IDF forces were deployed in order to close the circle on the suspects as quickly as possible."
The deputy director of Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva, where the seriously injured man was taken, said: "A 39-year-old wounded man arrived at the trauma unit, fully conscious. He is stable and suffering from extensive limb injuries. He was stabilized and transferred to the operating room. We are optimistic about the continuation of the treatment. He arrived while conscious, he was able to tell his details and was stable."
The wife of the wounded man, who underwent early medical treatment in the field to stop the bleeding, is on her way to the hospital. Military officials stated that the early medical treatment given by the military medics who were on the scene saved the injured man's life.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was visiting the Tel Hashomer recruitment center at the time of the attack, was updated on the details of the attack.
Before the woman was declared dead, MDA emergency medic Moshe Barshat said: "The man and the woman were near the car when they were unconscious and suffering from gunshot wounds. In cooperation with the IDF medical force, we gave them medical treatment that included stopping the bleeding. The man who was seriously injured was taken in a military intensive care vehicle to the Soroka hospital, and the woman was being treated on the spot as she is in critical condition and unconscious."
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasem welcomed the attack. "The operation in Hebron is a natural response in dealing with the religious war in holy places. Our people will continue to protect Al-Aqsa and its Islamic and Arab identity, and will not allow the occupation to carry out its plans there."
Islamic Jihad added: "We welcome the heroic shooting operation that targeted the vehicles of criminal settlers south of Hebron. The operation is a natural and legitimate response to the crimes of the occupation and the aggression of its settlers against our people, and heralds the continuation of the direct response to deterring the enemy in all arenas."
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department condemned the attack. "We again condemn today's terrorist attack by a Palestinian militant that killed one Israeli and wounded one other. We send our deepest condolences to the victims’ families. This violence must stop," a post on X read.
There have been quite a few shooting attacks in the southern Mount Hebron area in the past, and the terrorists often manage to shoot at Israelis and escape very quickly - partly to Hebron or Kfar Yatta. Terror cells there have many weapons and there is an active Hamas infrastructure.
The Beit Hagai intersection is located on Route 60 between the Palestinian town of Yatta and Hebron, shortly after the exit from the Beit Hagai settlement. This is an intersection where deadly attacks have occurred in the past, so there is a permanent pillbox there - which is sometimes manned by IDF forces.
First published: 10:41, 08.21.23