'Fence alert system was not activated'
Probe suggests terrorists jumped over settlement's fence, but electronic security system failed to alert of breach, emergency squad did not deploy to scene. PM's Office: Israel will not ignore this hateful murder, act firmly to protect lives of citizens, punish murderers
One or two terrorists on Friday night jumped over the electronic fence surrounding the West Bank settlement of Itamar, entered a home and stabbed to death a couple and three of their children.
The security apparatus has launched a probe to fond out why the fence's electronic security system alerted of contact but not of a breach in the fence, and why standby units were not called to the scene.
The terrorists entered the home of the victims through the window and murdered three children aged 11, 3, and a baby girl along with their parents. The victims were apparently sleeping as the killer came in. The terrorists committed the murders quickly and escaped the scene.
Two other children at the home, a 6-year-old boy and his 2-year-old brother were sleeping in another room and were not injured in the attack. According to an initial report, the oldest sister, 12, returned home from a Bnei Akiva activity and discovered the horror. She took her two brothers to a nearby house and informed the neighbors of the attack.
Standby unit was not deployed (Photo: Ido Erez)
Large IDF, IAF and police forces rushed to the site, including incoming Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Security forces scoured the area and estimated that the terrorists managed to escape back into the Palestinian territories.
Following the attack, GOC Central Command Chief Avi Mizrahi offered his deep condolences to the family of the victims and said the IDF "will get its hands on the murderers.
"An entire family was murdered by loathsome, cowardly murderers, who killed innocent children and their parents," he added during a press briefing.
Forces searching for terrorists (Photo: Ido Erez)
Major-General Mizrahi hinted that the security apparatus may have information on the identity of the terrorists: "We are in the midst of a manhunt and I believe that we will get our hands on them soon," he said, refusing to take any questions from reporters.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the incident, saying "It is a heinous murder of an innocent family – parents and children – while they were sleeping in their beds on Shabbat night."
The Prime Minister's Office stated that Netanyahu was urging the Palestinian Authority to help capture those behind the attack. "Israel will not ignore this hateful murder, and will act firmly to protect the lives of Israel's citizens and punish the murderers," it was stated.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said he "clearly and firmly" denounces the attack.
"We are against violence and condemn it, regardless of the circumstances, identity of the victims or the goals," Fayyad said in a statement.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed the Israeli delegation to the United Nations to file a harsh complaint to the UN secretary-general and the president of the Security Council following the terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Itamar.
"Israel is expecting to hear a strong condemnation from all democratic states, which in the name of human rights hurry to denounce every caravan movement in Judea and Samaria, but as of last night have yet to condemn the heinous murder of an entire family, including a one-month-old baby," he stated.
Also on Saturday morning, Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan suggested that the Israeli Defense Forces did not provide sufficient protection to the settlement.
"The standby unit is responsible for protecting the settlement, although the IDF should and could assist with security," he said.
"Some of the residents' security needs were not addressed, and it's a shame that we have to witness such a grave incident in order to understand the necessity of these security needs. These means can be provided by the Defense Ministry, and could have possibly prevented the attack," Dayan added.
The Yesha Council chairman stressed that he was against price tag operations, yet noted that "the main message I get from this incident is that the Palestinians still want to harm us and kill us, although these are only children and newborns.
"The government must support the settlements in Judea and Samaria, which stand at the forefront and pay the heaviest price – and not act against them," he concluded.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report
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