Three Israelis were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist on Friday night as they were eating their Shabbat meal.
Omar Al-Abed,a 19-year old Palestinian, broke into a home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish carrying a large knife, stabbing members of the Salamon family, who had gathered together to celebrate the birth of a grandchild that morning.
Al-Abed killed Yosef Salamon, 70, and his daughter Chaya, 46, and son Elad, 36. Yosef Salamon’s wife, Chaya Salamon, was seriously wounded and underwent surgery at Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek hospital on Saturday morning.
Al-Abad was neutralised by a neighbour of the Salamons, a sergeant in the IDF, who shot and wounded the terrorist. Al-Abed was treated in hospital before being handed over for questioning to the Israeli security services.
Israeli news outlets are reporting that Al –Abed purchased the knife on Thursday, deciding to carry out a terror attack because of the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Ten day ago, three Arab terrorists descended from the Temple Mount and shot and killed two Israeli police officers. The Temple Mount compound, which is run by Islamic authorities and where Jews are forbidden to pray, was closed while a search was carried out.
When the complex was re-opened last Sunday, the Palestinians protested against introduction of metal detectors at entrances to the site, claiming this was an Israeli encroachment on the compound where the Al-Aqsa mosque, an Islamic holy site, is located.
On Friday, a riot broke out among the Palestinians who had prayed outside the compound. Three Palestinians were killed in the subsequent altercation with the Israeli police.
Prior to carrying out the killings, Al-Abed posted a message on Facebook urging others to follow his example.
“I only have a knife”, he wrote.
“Where are the others who had guns to use only at wedding?”, he continued, a reference to the practice by Arabs to fire guns into the air at wedding celebrations.
“I ask my family to forgive me. I know I will not return and will go to heaven.
“Put in my grave Arafat’s keffiyeh [head-scarf] and the ribbon of Al-Aqsa brigades”.
Al-Abed’s family is reputed to have connections with the Hamas terrorist group. Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, posted a message praising his attack, with Palestinians in Gaza subsequently gathering in celebration of the murders.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres released two statements on Friday. The first “deeply deplored” the deaths of the Palestinians during rioting and called for the incidents to be “fully investigated”.
The second “strongly condemned” the terror attack in Halamish.
Shortly after the end of Shabbat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement, saying he wanted “to express my deep sorrow over last night's murder of three family members in the community of Halamish.
“This was an act of terrorism committed by a beast incited by wild hatred. The security forces are doing their utmost to maintain security and, to this end, will take all necessary measures”.
The IDF is searching the village of Kaubar, where the Al-Abed is from, for further weaponry. His house is also likely to be demolished, in line with Israeli government policy concerning the residences of terrorists.