12 MURDERED IN
HEBRON SHABBAT MASSACRE
Jerusalem----November 15.....In one of the worst atrocities that Israel has witnessed, 3 Jewish civilians and 9 security / medical personnel were gunned down in a hail of bullets tonight as they left Friday evening prayer services in Hebron. Palestinian terrorists ambushed the peaceful Jewish group and the emergency medical services which came to their aid at about 7:30 pm.
Israel Defense Forces doctors and medics rushed to evacuate the bleeding terror victims and quickly found themselves under heavy sniper fire with hand grenades being thrown at them in what an army officer called a complex ambush. The attack came from terrorists situated in the Abu Sneineh neighborhood overlooking the Jewish Quarter in the divided West Bank city.
was gunfire from left and right, from every possible angle, they were
shooting at us from above," one man, who gave his name only as
Arik, told Army Radio. "The group of Jews were slaughtered."
gunbattle raged for close to 2 hours, before Israeli medical rescue
workers were able to evacuate the wounded in bullet proof ambulances.
Flares lit up the night sky and military helicopters helped evacuate
the wounded and dead, including the regional IDF brigade commander,
Colonel Dror Weinberg and members of his entourage.
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to the Al Jazeera television station.
The attack comes as Fatah and Hamas are reportedly discussing a three-month cease-fire in Cairo. Islamic Jihad is not part of the talks - and even an agreement in those talks would not have stopped Friday's attacks; a possible moratorium would not apply to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where all Palestinian groups view soldiers and settlers as legitimate targets.
Later in the evening troops surrounded a house that the assailants had fled to, initially firing anti tank rockets and tank shells into the house before they eventually stormed the house and killed the two men.
The IDF said that it is not clear if the two Palestinians terrorists that were killed were the only ones who carried out the operation or if the had accomplices. The soldiers found Kalachnikov rifles and hand grenades near the bodies of the Islamic fighters.
soldiers are continuing to carry out searches in Palestinian controlled
Hebron and all roads leading to and from Hebron have been sealed off.
were brought in to extricate the wounded. For a time, the dead were
Both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz were being kept constantly updated on events in Hebron, but the cabinet is not expected to convene on Friday night.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Gilad Millo called the attack a "Sabbath
Some of the wounded are in a critical and serious condition and have been taken to the Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem and the Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem by ambulances and helicopters. A Magen David Adom spokesman said that all the wounded had been evacuated.
Among the wounded are one person in a critical condition, three in a serious condition, one moderately wounded and eight people were lightly wounded.
The attackers opened fire on the Jews as they wound their way from Hebron to the nearby Kiryat Arba neighborhood following payers to mark the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the burial cave of the biblical Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and a place revered by both Muslims and Jews.
Jews living in Kiryat Arba walk to the holy site every Friday evening,
and the route is heavily guarded by Israeli security forces.
The move was part of the 'Judea First' plan approved by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon based on recommendations by then-defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
The decision to withdraw from most of the city was severely criticized by Jewish residents, who said they fear that the IDF will later also leave the Palestinian neighborhoods overlooking the Jewish community and leave the Jewish residents to face further terrorist acts.
The so-called "worshippers' lane," which links the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba and downtown Hebron, has been targeted by Palestinian terrorists in the past.
The Israeli Government Press Office noted that the terrorists chose to carry out this attack during the month of Ramadan. The IDF made great efforts to ease the situation for the Palestinians living in Hebron, especially during the Ramadan. On Oct. 25 the IDF redeployed in the city, leaving most of the points it took up in the Abu Sneineh a Hart e-Sheikh neighborhood, to improve the quality of life for the Palestinian population.
The GPO added that this attack took place on Sabbath eve, in an important religious area, underscoring the cruel character of Palestinian terrorists, killing Israelis with distinction.
IDF will act against the Palestinian terror with all means at its disposal
to ensure the security the citizens of Israel and the security forces.