On this date, 11 March 2011, five members of a Jewish family, known as the Fogel Family were murdered in the Israeli Settlement of Itamar in the West Bank. I will blog about them from Wikipedia before giving my comments and condolences.
The Itamar attack, also called the Itamar massacre, was an attack on a Jewish family in the Israeli settlement of Itamar in the West Bank that took place on 11 March 2011, in which five members of the same family were murdered in their beds. The victims were the father Ehud (Udi) Fogel, the mother Ruth Fogel, and three of their six children—Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, the youngest, a three-month-old infant. According to David Ha'ivri, and as reported by multiple sources the infant was decapitated. The settlement of Itamar had been the target of several murderous attacks before these killings.
Amjad Awad and Hakim Awad, two young Palestinian men from the village of Awarta, were arrested for the murders. On 5 June 2011 they were indicted on five counts of murder, stealing weapons, breaking and entering, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Both were later found guilty. They initially denied any involvement in the attack but later proudly confessed to the killings, expressed no remorse and reenacted the attack before security officials.
The attack was harshly condemned by the United Nations, the Quartet on the Middle East, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many other governments, as well as the Palestinian Authority and a number of non-governmental organizations. Xinhua, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China, stated that the attack was praised by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades stated that “the heroic operation is a natural response to the (Israeli) occupation crimes against our people in West Bank and Gaza Strip.” An opinion poll indicated that 63% of Palestinians opposed and about one-third supported the attack. One of the perpetrators of the murders was described as a "hero" and a "legend" by members of his family, during a weekly program.
Map of the approximate area of the Shomron Regional Council in the West Bank. For location maps.
Itamar, West Bank, (Area C)
11 March 2011
5 (including 3 children)
Due to an increase in security measures by the Palestinian National Authority, operations by Palestinian militant organizations in the West Bank had been declining. Over the previous two years, Israel had removed a number of roadblocks and checkpoints, although a security fence remained in place around Itamar. The attack was the first killing of settlers since a drive-by shooting in August 2010 left four dead near Kiryat Arba. Attacks on Israeli settlements in the West Bank had been defended by some Palestinian militants on previous occasions, who argued that the settlers are de facto combatants in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Itamar, with a population of 1,032 (2009), mostly ideologically motivated national-religious Israeli-Jewish families considered among the most fervent Israeli settlers in the West Bank, has had numerous confrontations with local Palestinians. Tensions between Itamar and the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta had been rising before the attack. Palestinians had accused settlers in the locality of cutting down hundreds of olive trees, burning cars and shooting at Palestinian residents. Ten Palestinians and one settler were injured in a confrontation in the week before the attack, when Israeli soldiers were accused of opening fire to quell the clash, and two Palestinian teenagers had been shot to death a year previously as they collected garbage near Itamar.
Itamar in 2007
The attack was carried out by Amjad Mahmad Awad, 18, and Hakim Mazen Awad, 17. Both are from the Awad clan, which makes up about half of Awarta's population, and are cousins. Hakim Mazen Awad was a high school student whose father, Mazen, is active in the PFLP. Mazen had previously been arrested by the Palestinian Authority and served a five-year prison sentence for murdering a female cousin and cremating her body. His uncle Jibril was also a PFLP militant who had participated in a 2002 attack against Itamar which left four civilians dead, including three children, along with the settlement's security officer, and was killed in a 2003 clash with Israeli troops. Amjad Mahmad Awad was also affiliated with the PFLP. He had been employed in Israel as a laborer, and was a student at Al-Quds Open University. The families of the two suspects denied the two committed the massacre. Hakim Awad's mother, Nawef, claimed that her son was at home the night of the murder and never left the house, claiming that "five months ago Hakim underwent a surgery in his stomach and I'm sure he was tortured and forced into confessing," though she later proudly admitted his involvement. Amjad's family also claimed that he was in the village at the time of the event. One relative said that Hakim and Amjad did not know each other, as "one went to university, the other is in high school". He also claimed that if they had been guilty, they would have been captured within days, as "the whole world knows about Israel's advanced investigation abilities and its use of sophisticated means". Shin Bet, however, claimed that in spite of the time passed between the murders and arrests, it was a major achievement.
Amjad and Hakim Awad had decided to carry out an attack on Itamar days before. Three days before the killings, they approached a PFLP member with a request for weapons, but were rebuffed. At midday on Friday, 11 March, they decided that they would enter Itamar later that night, and carry out an attack armed with knives.
Several media sources, among them the Guardian and the Washington Post, first reported that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, the dominant political faction in the West Bank, claimed responsibility for the attack, whereas the Jerusalem Post reported, that the "Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Imad Mughniyeh" had claimed responsibility, a group named after a Hezbollah chief of military operations and liaison with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who was killed by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008. According to Al Hayat, officials of "Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" denied association with the Imad Mughniyeh-group or the attack.
The Jerusalem Post reported that a number of media outlets affiliated with the Palestinian Authority doubt Israeli claims that the killings were committed by Palestinians and report that a Thai worker who was employed in the settlement had been arrested on suspicion of the killings.
Amjad and Hakim Awad were already in custody when they were identified as the killers, and their names released to the public on April 17. They offered a detailed account of the attack, as well as a reenactment. Despite the ties of both suspects to the PFLP, Shin Bet investigators did not identify the attack as being carried out under the auspices of the PFLP, but rather as an individual act. Israeli authorities said that they planned their attack well ahead of time, and showed no remorse for their actions.
According to Israeli investigators, Amjad and Hakim Awad had attempted to acquire weapons from a Popular Front militant in Awarta. After he refused, they decided to carry out the attack using knives. Just after 9 pm on Friday night, the two left Awarta carrying several knives, an umbrella, and wire-cutting shears. The two tried to cut through the settlement's security fence, but eventually climbed over it. An initial probe showed that the fence around Itamar functioned properly. At about the same time that they infiltrated, an alarm sounded in the settlement's security room, indicating the exact location where they entered. But neither the settlement's civilian security team nor the civilian security officer, who went to the site of the disturbance and found nothing out of order, informed soldiers patrolling the area of the fence, concluding that an animal had set off the alarm, although procedures prescribe that the IDF is to be informed of any alarm.
After crossing the fence, Amjad and Hakim walked 400 meters into the settlement. The perpetrators first broke into a house of the Chai family who were on vacation, searching all the rooms. They stole an M-16 assault rifle, ammunition, a helmet, and a kevlar vest. They waited an hour and entered the Fogels' house at around 10:30 pm According to the indictment, the two entered the children's room, told eleven-year-old Yoav, who had been awakened by their entry not to be afraid, then took him to a nearby room, slashed his throat, and stabbed him in the chest. Hakim Awad then strangled four-year-old Elad with Amjad Awad stabbing him twice in the chest. The two next entered the parents' room, and turned on the light, waking them up. The parents then struggled with the attackers. Ehud Fogel was repeatedly stabbed in the neck, and Ruth Fogel was stabbed in the neck and back and then shot when the suspects saw that she was not dead. The suspects then left the house. According to the confessions of the suspects, they feared that the shots had been heard. When they went outside, they saw a patrol vehicle, but realized that they had not been discovered when it did nothing. The two then argued over whether to withdraw or carry out attacks in other homes, with Hakim insisting that they return immediately to Awarta, and Amjad arguing that they should return to the home and steal another weapon. Amjad then re-entered the Fogel home. When 3-month old Hadas began crying, Amjad stabbed her, fearing the cries would attract attention. According to several accounts, the infant was decapitated., though one source says that although her throat was deeply slit, she was only "nearly decapitated". The attackers did not notice two other children asleep in the house at the time. In their confessions they said and that they would not have hesitated to kill them if they had noticed them. The perpetrators also stole Ehud's M-16 rifle. They left the settlement without being detected.
Amjad and Hakim Awad returned to Awarta on foot, and appealed to Hakim's uncle, PFLP militant Salah Awad, for assistance, and gave him a detailed description of the attack. Salah helped them conceal their stolen weapons and burn their bloodstained clothes, and later transferred the stolen weapons to Jad Avid, a contact in Ramallah for hiding.
The bodies were discovered by Tamar Fogel, the 12-year-old daughter of the family who arrived home around midnight after a youth outing. After finding that the door was locked, she asked her neighbor, Rabbi Ya'akov Cohen, for help. He noticed tracks and mud near the house, and brought a weapon with him. The two then woke the sleeping 6-year old boy by calling through the window, and he opened the door, after which Cohen returned to his home. When the girl discovered the murders, she ran outside screaming, and the Rabbi ran back, firing several shots into the air to alert security personnel. Rabbi Cohen, who later entered the house with the girl, said that her two-year-old brother "was lying next to his bleeding parents, shaking them with his hands and trying to get them to wake up, while crying... The sight in the house was shocking." Magen David Adom paramedics and ZAKA (Disaster Victim Identification) volunteers were called to the scene, including ZAKA regional commander Gil Bismot. Paramedics followed a trail of toys and blood to the bedroom, where they discovered the first three bodies: the mother, father and infant. In the next room they found the body of the 11-year-old sibling. Finally they reached the last bedroom, where the 4-year-old boy was severely injured and dying. The toddler died of his wounds despite the efforts of medical personnel.
In accordance with Jewish law, the bodies remained in the home throughout Jewish Sabbath, watched over by ZAKA volunteers. Immediately after the end of Sabbath, another team of ZAKA volunteers arrived from Immanuel and the wider region were dispatched to Itamar. ZAKA volunteers collected all human remains and cleaned up the scene. Dr. Yehuda Hiss of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv traveled to Itamar to carry out an examination of the bodies. The procedure was supervised by the head of the ZAKA Rabbinical Council, Rabbi Ya'akov Roget.
Bodies wrapped in tallit at funeral in Givat Shaul
The victims of the attack are Ehud "Udi" Fogel, age 36, the son of Gush Emunim activists from Neve Tzuf, Ruth Fogel, age 35, the daughter of a Jerusalem rabbi, and three of their six children, Yoav, age 11, Elad, age 4, and three months old Hadas.
The Fogel family had recently settled in Itamar. They previously lived in the Gush Katif settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. After Israel evacuated its Gaza settlements in 2005, they moved to the settlement of Ariel, and in 2009 to Itamar, where Udi Fogel worked as teacher at the post-high school yeshiva.
Three of the family's children, Tamar, age 12, Roi, age 6, and Yishai, age 2 have survived physically unharmed. They are being cared for by grandparents in the aftermath of the attack. Twelve-year-old Tamar is quoted as having promised her relatives: "I will be strong and succeed in overcoming this. I understand the task that stands before me, and I will be a mother to my siblings."
The funeral of the five victims on Sunday, 13 March at Har HaMenuchot Cemetery in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, was attended by some 20,000 people and broadcast on Israeli television. Speakers included former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, quoted as saying: "We will not bend, we will not give up, we returned to the land of our fathers and it is our home, and the children shall return within their borders and nothing will prevent our faith in the righteousness of our path", Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who, linking the murderers to Amalek, stated that "Itamar needs to become a major city in Israel as a response to this murder", and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, whose final remarks were: "Build more, live more, more footholds – that is our response to the murderers so that they know – they can't defeat us".
Ruth Fogel's father was quoted as having said: "Our children are prepared to be sacrificed as an offering at the altar we have to continue to build to bring redemption. Udi and Ruthie wanted this redemption."
Udi Fogel's brother Motti Fogel spoke out against the use that has been made of the murder of the family: "All the slogans about Torah and settlement, the Land of Israel and the people of Israel are attempts to forget the simple and pain-torn fact: you are dead. You are dead, and no slogan will bring you back. You are not a symbol or a national event. Your life was a purpose in and of itself, and it should be forbidden for your terrible death to turn your life into some sort of tool."
Following the end of the 30-day mourning period, an emotional memorial service was held in Itamar, where the cornerstone for a new kollel to be named after Udi Fogel was laid. Hundreds of people attended, including Sephardi Chief Rabbi Moshe Amar, Knesset members Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Uri Ariel (National Union), and Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan. Many participants signed a Megillah scroll, which was recited by former Military Rabbinate Chief and Yeshiva head Avichai Rontzki before being placed within the foundations of the new kollel.
Manhunt and capture
Following the attack, soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Police arrived in Itamar and conducted a search across the village of Itamar. The Israeli Air Force used UAVs for aerial surveillance of the area. Israeli authorities declared the nearby West Bank city of Nablus a closed military zone. Israeli troops set up checkpoints on the roads leading to the city and prevented vehicles and pedestrians from leaving or entering, according to Palestinians. Residential areas were placed under curfew, and Israeli troops conducted house-to-house searches. The previously-dismantled Huwwara Checkpoint was re-established.
An initial probe suggested two perpetrators entered Itamar shortly after 9 pm, jumping over the settlement's security fence, and remained in the settlement for three hours without being noticed. Due to the characteristics of the killings, the IDF estimated that the attack was not carried out by an organized terrorist infrastructure but was the work of one or two people, presumably Palestinian. Israeli authorities initially suspected that the killings may have been in revenge for the killing of two Palestinian teenagers from Awarta, who were shot dead near Itamar in 2010.
In Itamar, the Fogel family home was cordoned off by red tape and guarded by soldiers. A forensics team probed the home, collecting evidence left behind by the killers.
An IDF tracker spotted indications that the perpetrators had scaled the fence, and found footprints and equipment abandoned by the killers leading out of Itamar. The tracker, accompanied by an IDF force, followed the tracks to the Palestinian village of Awarta. IDF troops entered the town of Burqa, northwest of Nablus, searching houses and questioning residents. They did not make any arrests. IDF soldiers and Israel Border Police gendarmes also entered the villages of Sanur and Zababdeh, arresting several dozen Palestinians.
A gag order was imposed on the investigation.
Awarta was placed under curfew and declared a closed military zone. IDF troops and Israel Border Police conducted mass arrests of residents throughout the following days. According to Palestinian sources, all men from Awarta were questioned. Residents reported constant door-to-door searches, with some homes being searched up to three times. According to witness reports, Israeli armored vehicles patrolled the village's streets, and troops were deployed on the hilltops around the village. The city of Nablus remained under closure, but four days after the murders, a food delivery was permitted into the city. On 29 March 2011, the IDF initiated a second wave of arrests in Awarta, detaining 60 Palestinians, including the Deputy Mayor of Awarta, and collecting DNA samples. About 20 were immediately released following DNA testing, and another 40 were interrogated. A week later, AFP reported that the IDF arrested more than 100 women from the village, placing them in a camp where they were fingerprinted and DNA samples were taken, before most of them were released.
On 11 April, daily IDF raids continued in the village, and troops continued to maintain roadblocks at the entrance. According to allegations by Israeli leftists and Awarta residents, soldiers humiliated residents and damaged property. Palestinian officials claimed that Israel had seized land around the village to expand nearby settlements. The Palestinian Authority condemned the raids and called on the international community to pressure Israel into halting them.
Shin Bet questioned numerous Awarta villagers who had been arrested, with some residents who had been arrested and released being again questioned by Shin Bet investigators. Meanwhile, the IDF also questioned residents in various parts of Awarta. The interrogations produced various leads, but slowly, the circle of potential suspects was narrowed. At this stage, the IDF's elite Duvdevan Unit and the Israel Police's special undercover unit began making secret arrests of suspects, and interrogations of the suspects produced additional intelligence information. Hakim Awad was arrested on 5 April, but only started to cooperate after more information pointed to him. Amjad Awad was arrested on 10 April. Forensic evidence gathered from the Fogel family home linked them to the killings. The two were identified as the perpetrators, and kept in custody pending trial. On 17 April, it was officially cleared for publication that Amjad and Hakim Awad had been identified as the killers. Both suspects confessed to the killings and offered a detailed account. They expressed no remorse for their actions, and performed a reenactment of the attack before security officials. Amjad Awad declared that he was proud of what he did and had no regrets, even if he was sentenced to death.
Subsequently, Hakim's father, two uncles, and brother were arrested for hiding the murder weapons and suppressing additional evidence. Israeli security forces also arrested the PFLP militant who they had approached for weapons, and raided the Ramallah home of Yazed Hassan Mohammed Awad, Salah Awad's contact who had hidden the two stolen assault rifles following the attack. Both of the assault rifles were found in his home. In addition, Yazed Awad was found to have briefed Amjad and Hakim on Shin Bet interrogation teqniques. He was arrested, and in December 2012 was convicted by a military court.
Trial and conviction
On 26 May 2011, the Judea and Samaria Sector Military Court extended the remand of Amjad Mahmad Awad and Hakim Mazen Awad for eleven days. The Military Prosecution informed the court that it would file an official indictment at their next arraignment. The Military Prosecution considered requesting the death penalty, due to the extreme nature of the attack.
On 5 June 2011, Amjad and Hakim Awad were indicted before the Judea and Samaria Sector Military Court on five counts of murder, stealing weapons, breaking and entering, and conspiracy to commit a crime. The suspects confessed to the murder and the military prosecution in the case presented forensic evidence linking them to the scene of the crime, including DNA samples and fingerprints. According to a senior Shin Bet official involved in the investigation, despite the suspects' young age, Hakim and Amjad "described what they did with self-control and did not express regret over their actions at any stage of the investigation." Amjad told reporters in the court "I don't regret what I did and I would do it again. I'm proud of what I did and I'll accept any punishment I get, even death, because I did it all for Palestine."
Hakim Awad was found guilty on five counts of murder in August 2011. He was also convicted for weapons-related and other security offenses. In September 2011 he was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences and another five years in prison. Prior to the sentencing Awad declared he was not sorry and claimed he carried out the attack "because of the occupation." In October 2011, Amjad Awad pled guilty to five counts of murder. Before deciding whether to convict him, the judges examined the primary evidence. On January 16, 2012, he was sentenced to five life terms and an additional seven years in prison. The judges had seriously considered imposing the death penalty, but decided not to seek a harsher sentence than what the prosecution had requested.
In response to the Itamar attack, on 13 March, the Israeli cabinet approved the construction of 500 housing units in Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel and Modi'in Illit, areas of the West Bank that Israel intends to keep under any permanent accord with the Palestinians. The decision was taken in a late-night cabinet meeting in which both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak took part, after several alternatives, such as starting a new settlement or widening the settlement of Itamar, were rejected. The decision was criticized by the Palestinians and the United States. A spokesperson from the U.S. State Department told the Jewish Week that the "United States is deeply concerned by continuing Israeli actions with respect to settlements in the West Bank" and that "[c]ontinued Israeli settlements are illegitimate and run counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visiting relatives of the victims, told the mourners:
"They shoot and we build."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman voiced his opposition to imposing the death penalty on the perpetrators, saying that Israel "should not be guided by revenge."
On 4 April 2011, a new bill was proposed by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) to keep murderers of children from being included in prisoner exchanges and allowing them to be pardoned by the President at any future date.
In the aftermath of the attack, Israeli military and police forces were deployed near Nablus to prevent clashes.
According to Palestinian sources and the BBC, Israeli settlers vandalized property near Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah in revenge for the Fogel murders. They also reportedly handed out threatening leaflets in Beitillu, near Ramallah, blocked a junction in Gush Etzion and threw stones at Palestinians. Several were arrested by IDF and police forces deployed on the scene. Israeli activists blocked an intersection near Psagot on Highway 60. According to the Palestinians, residents of Bat Ayin took part in a protest at which the Israeli police fired tear gas. Settlers near Nablus and Kedumim area reportedly stoned and burned Palestinian vehicles, and blocked the Jit Junction. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Rosh Yeshiva of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar, is said to have called for houses in a nearby village to be demolished.
On March 13, Israelis protested at the Horev, Tzabar, Megiddo, and Azrieli Junctions, carrying signs proclaiming "we are settlers too" and "peace isn't signed with blood." Drivers honked their car horns in solidarity. Right-wing activists protested near Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University students held at rally near Highway 4, chanting "enough to violence and incitement – talk to humans not murderers".
On 14 March, settlers clashed with Palestinians near Nablus, which ended after Israeli troops dispersed the Palestinians with live fire. An Israeli settler and ten Palestinians were wounded during the clashes. Three days later, two Palestinian workers employed in Shilo were attacked by masked men armed with iron rods and pepper spray, as was an Israeli securtiy guard who attempted to protect them.
On 16 March, 200 settlers marched from Itamar to Awarta. Fourteen marchers entered the village and threw stones at homes. IDF soldiers and Border Police gendarmes dispersed the rioters. Some marched up a hill near Itamar to support the construction of a new Israeli outpost there.
An opinion poll conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found, according to the groups, "In light of the attack in Itamar, 59% among Israelis oppose and 33% support the government policy to relax the security measures in the West Bank such as the removal of road blocks." The groups asked 601 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic, or Russian between 21 and 28 March 2011.
On 16 March Haaretz reported that residents of Itamar were building a new outpost, unofficially named "Aryeh." "Aryeh" is Hebrew for lion, as well as an approximate acronym for the names Udi, Ruth, Yoav, Elad and Hadas, the five victims of the attack. On 1 December, Aryeh was demolished by Israeli Civil Administration personnel backed by IDF troops and police officers. During the demolition operation, three permanent structures, two makeshift structures and a synagogue were razed. A control panel and the electricity system that powered a security camera purchased by the Shomron Regional Council were also destroyed, and a security official claimed that the electric system was illegal and was destroyed to protect Civil Administration personnel from being electrocuted. Settlers claimed that three Torah scrolls were confiscated.
A memorial service for the Fogel family was held at New York's Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun a week after the attack. It was attended by 1,000 local residents, with 2,000 more viewing a live broadcast over the internet. President of the New York Board of Rabbis Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier said of the victims that they "were treated as criminals for settling and building beautiful lives in the heartland of our ancestral holy land." Pastor of the Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, Reverend Jacques DeGraff, told the gathered mourners, "I'm here today because it is not enough for the friends of Israel to issue a statement." The service was jointly sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the UJA-Federation of New York, and Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.
Gary Rosenblatt, editor-in-chief of The Jewish Week, commented that reactions to the Itamar killings may have been more muted given that the victims were religious Israelis living in a small West Bank settlement. He stated that if the victims had been secular Jews living inside the Green Line "outrage would have been far greater".
A delegation of Italian Jews from Rome visited Itamar on 30 March and extended a donation of €25,000 to support the three surviving children of the Fogel family. President of the Jewish community of Rome Riccardo Pacifici said, "We come with a message of solidarity and support."
A team of Finnish performers wrote a song in memory of the Fogel family for the annual Benei Akiva Jewish Eurovision contest, held this year in Rome, Italy. The team was inspired by the fact that daughter Tamar Fogel's life was spared owing to her being out of the house at the time of the attack, attending a Benei Akiva event.
President Shimon Peres said, "This is one of the ugliest and most difficult events that we have known, the murder of parents with their small children – among them a three-year-old boy, and a five-month-old baby girl – while they were sleeping in their beds. It shows the loss of humanity... There is no religion in the world, no faith that allows for such horrendous acts."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he was "deeply shocked" and that he stands behind the residents of Judea and Samaria, adding, "We will not allow terror to determine the settlement map." He also told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that it was not enough to condemn the violence because it "is against Palestinian interests," but because it is morally unacceptable. "I expect that you stop the incitement in the schools, school books and mosques, and educate your children toward peace, as we do. The murder of children in their sleep is murder for the sake of murder." He blamed the terror attack on continuing incitement against Jews in the Palestinian Authority.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited the Fogel family's home in Itamar three days after the killings and expressed his admiration for the people of Itamar, stressing that it is "the state's duty to guarantee the security of Israel's residents" and that there should be no security compromises by Israel and no retreat to the 1967 borders. Lieberman also urged the Palestinian Authority to end incitement, stating that "we cannot talk peace with anyone talking about bloodshed, hatred, and murder. We must draw conclusions on the political level".
In what Haaretz described as "an unprecedented decision", the Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein decided to release horrific photographs from the scene of the attack. The photos show the stabbed and bleeding bodies of the members of the Fogel family, with only their faces blurred, as requested by their relatives. Although the photographs were distributed to the international media, no serious news organization has published them to date.
IDF Chief of Staff, Rav Aluf Benny Gantz, visited Itamar the day after the attack and vowed, "We will not rest until we lay our hands on the murderers. This incident is atrocious, its perpetrators capable of beastly crimes." At a meeting of the IDF senior command early the following week, Gantz remarked, "I have seen many things in my life but I have never encountered such inhumanity."
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni expressed outrage over the attack but criticized the government decision to approve 500 housing units in Judea and Samaria as a response to the terror attack, because she felt it links the building to terror.
Arab-Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi called the perpetrator a "coward", and said that "the Palestinian nation is ashamed of such people, who distort its image and its righteous struggle to free itself of the occupation. A struggle must be moral, conscionable, and fair. There are rules to the struggle against the occupation".
In February 2012, more than 1,000 members of the Likud party visited Itamar and planted 1,500 trees in memory of the Fogel family victims as part of annual Tu Bishvat festivities throughout Israel.
COMMENTS & CONDOLENCES
I give my heartfelt condolences and cry with the remaining members of the Fogel Family. I have strong empathy and sympathy for the children who will grow up without parents. I myself condemned this homicide and I wished that the perpetrators can pay with their lives like Amrozi the Smiling Assassin. I have to admit that the two terrorists are similar to Umar Patek who is totally unrepentant.
I encouraged everybody to donate money and support the Israeli Organization, ‘We Value Life’. They want to reinstate the death penalty for terrorist.
I hope this message from Glenn Beck will comfort and console the Israeli people.