Hamas gunmen killed four Israeli civilians, one of them a pregnant woman – all residents of Bet Haggai – in their car at the Beni Naim junction near Kiryat Arba Tuesday night, Aug. 31. They are identified as Yitzhak (47) and Tali (45) Ames, parents of six, Cochava Even Haim (37) and Avishai Schindler (24). The gunmen fired a hail of automatic fire from a following car, then approached the bullet-riddled vehicle and fired again at point-blank range to make sure their victims were dead.
debkafile's counter-terror sources report: The IDF and security authorities failed to anticipate this attack on a West Bank highway although Hamas had threatened to unleash terror against Israel to sabotage the Israel-Palestinian talks about to start in Washington this week. This was reported by debkafile last Wednesday.
Tuesday night, Hamas took responsibility for the murderous ambush and warned it was just the beginning and worse was still to come.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who received the news two hours before he landed in the US capital to join the summit with President Barak Obama and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, ordered the defense minister and chief and staff to hunt the killers and their despatchers down and punish them without regard to diplomatic considerations. He refrained from ordering them to target Hamas command centers in Damascus and Gaza from which the attack was planned.
In a special message, Netanyahu said he "strengthened the hands of our brothers and sisters in Judea and Samaria." West Bank Jewish leaders announced the resumption of building Wednesday Sept. 1 and an end to the government construction freeze due to expire on Sept. 26. They said that every Israel attempt to attain peace in fifteen years had been met with brutal bloodshed.
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi visited the scene of the attack as the hunt for the perpetrators got underway in the Hebron vicinity.