A day after a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated Israel's border and broke into a home, the woman who managed to chase him away recalled her terrifying encounter in an interview.
"I heard footsteps and thought it was my husband," said Yael Re'em-Matzpun, 39, who resides with her family in the farming town of Sdei Avraham, not far from the border with Egypt. "He opened the door to the bedroom, turned on the light, and then I realized I was in trouble."
- Probe: Terrorist infiltrated Israel undetected
- Woman singlehandedly drives terrorist away
- Gaza man shot dead by IDF troops in Eshkol
The intruder entered the family's home around 3:30 am. Re'em-Matzpun was awake, with her son and daughter asleep next to her in her bed. Her two other daughters slept in the adjacent rooms. The mother said that as she faced the assailant, she couldn't help but recollect an attack that left five family members dead in the West Bank settlement of Itamar last year.
Re'em-Matzpun (Photo: Herzel Yosef)
"I asked him, 'What do you want?' and he told me, 'Get up, get up,'" Re'em-Matzpun recounted. "I asked him if he wants money, and he only replied, 'Get up.' I realized that I didn't have a choice, so I wrapped something around myself and got up."
The assailant ordered her to lie down on the floor, but she refused, deciding instead to fight him away.
"When he pushed me on the bed and leaned over me I realized that he had a knife," she said. "I tried to push him away. At some point he got up, went to the other side of the room and started flinging objects at me."
'My daughters are heroes'
Taking advantage of a momentary pause in the barrage, Re'em-Matzpun grabbed her two children and took them out of the bedroom. She then went back to the room, got a large bell and began ringing it. The plan worked; the racket made the trespasser back away into the bathroom, where she promptly locked him.
She called her husband and her neighbor, who has a gun, but the assailant jumped out of the bathroom window and fled before they arrived .
"My daughters keep hearing that their mother is a hero, but I tell them that they are the heroes because they didn't panic," she said. "They're the true heroes."
IDF troops who were alerted to the scene chased the Palestinian down and shot him dead in the nearby bushes. The army said Monday the soldiers followed arrest protocol and only opened fire after he put them at risk.
Town of Sdei Avraham on Monday (Photo: Roee Idan)
Re'em-Matzpun, who was lightly injured during her struggle, praised the troops.
"I have no doubt that the army knows what it's doing," she said, adding: "It's too bad that it happened."
She said that she knew right away that the man wasn't just an ordinary burglar.
"When he entered my room I immediately thought he was a terrorist," she said. "What kind of burglar turns on the lights? He could have taken the money and car keys from my purse. He clearly had a well-thought-out plan."
The mayor of the Eshkol Regional Council, where the town is located, expressed concern about repeat incidents.
"The new understandings with Egypt over the border with Gaza put the residents of Eshkol at risk," Haim Yalin said. "I demand the government of Israel to allow the IDF the freedom of action necessary to prevent the infiltration of towns, like the one that occurred yesterday."
The IDF continued on Tuesday to investigate the circumstances surrounding the attack. The probe found that the Palestinian appears to have entered Israeli territory through a breach in the border fence and proceeded into the town undetected.
Testimonies obtained by Ynet indicate that the breach was caused during a protest staged by Palestinians last Friday near Khan Younis. The gap in the fence was left unguarded.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop